Palestinian religious and political authorities continue to boycott the al-Aqsa mosque compound
Israel has removed metal detectors, but has announced new security measures. Mahmoud Abbas wants a return to the status quo ante before things can get back to normal and talks resume. Israel’s Supreme Court rules in favour of a human rights NGO that called for the return of the bodies of the 14 July attackers.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says he will maintain a freeze on contact with Israel, despite the removal of metal detectors installed at the al-Aqsa mosque compound on 14 July after an attack in which two Israeli policemen died.
The Palestinian leader said this was necessary "so things can go back to normal in Jerusalem and we can resume our work regarding bilateral relations".
Muslims believers and leaders also decided to continue the boycott, choosing to pray in the streets adjacent to the al-Aqsa mosque.
The boycott began after Israel installed metal detectors to monitor people going in and out of the religious site.
Yesterday, Israeli authorities removed the metal detectors that had triggered Palestinian protests. In their stead, security inspections will be “based on advanced technologies and other means," a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.
The new measures will be implemented over the next six months, and will include greater police presence.
For Palestinians, this represents an attempt by Israel to control al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam. For Jews, who call the area Temple Mount, the site is where their ancient temples stood during biblical times.
Under the status quo, which Israel has to respect, Muslims are the only ones allowed to pray in the al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Bezalel Smotrich, a Knesset member for the Jewish Home Party, said yesterday that Palestinians should pay a "steep price" for their actions, adding that he "would close the Temple Mount to Arab prayer and establish a Synagogue for Jews. And if the terrorism continues I would close the mount to Arabs and there will be only Jews there."
The Waqf, the Muslim endowment that administers the compound, backs the protest. “This movement is a movement of the street,” said Sheikh Raed Dana of the Waqf. “We as the Waqf listen to the street. The street says yes and we say yes; if the street says no to the measures, we will say no.”
Palestinian Christians, along with Church leaders, have expressed their support to Muslims for the status quo.
Meanwhile, in a precedent-setting case, Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled to accept an appeal submitted by human rights organisation Adalah that called for the return of the bodies of those responsible for the deadly shooting attack on 14 July. The court ordered that the bodies of the three young men must be released in 30 hours.
Israel has a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies to prevent funerals from provide grounds for “incitement” against the Israeli state. The practice has been widely condemned by rights groups as an act of collective punishment and deemed ineffective by Israeli security officials.