Palestinian Authority President Abbas announced Wednesday that he would be cutting a trip to China short in light of escalating tensions between Muslim worshipers and Israel Police, sparked by new security measures imposed at the Temple Mount.
According to the official PA news agency Wafa, Abbas will be returning to Ramallah to convene urgent meetings with Palestinian leaders to discuss the protests surrounding the holy site.
Palestinian officials have denounced metal detectors placed at the entrances to the Temple Mount compound following a deadly shooting attack last Friday as a change in the delicate status quo that governs the site. Israel denies the upgraded security measures amount to a change in the longstanding rules, and said upgraded security measures were needed after three Arab-Israeli gunmen emerged from the compound and shot dead two police officers on duty just outside.
Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told Wafa that the PA leader is also in contact with Arab and world leaders in an effort to de-escalate the situation.
The site has reemerged as a flashpoint in recent days, with Muslim protesters holding, at times, violent demonstrations inside and outside of the Old City.
The metal detectors were part of increased security measures after police said the attackers had stashed their weapons on the Temple Mount and emerged armed from the holy site to open fire on the officers.
Abbas’s Fatah movement called for a “Day of Rage” on Wednesday to protest the new security measures.
The organization called for marches in the West Bank toward Israeli checkpoints in protest of the new measures and announced that Friday prayers, when many worshipers go to the Temple Mount, would be conducted in public squares instead.
Abbas arrived in Beijing on Monday to meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping in what is his fourth state visit to the country.
During their meeting on Tuesday, Xi reaffirmed China’s support of a two-state solution, with an independent, sovereign Palestinian state, bounded by the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.