The Arab League will convene to discuss the Temple Mount clashes Sunday between Palestinian youths and Israeli police, settlement construction, and various killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces in the past week, Palestinian officials said Monday.
Dozens of masked Palestinian protesters hurled rocks, Molotov cocktails and firecrackers at police officers on the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City Sunday morning, before being pushed back into the al-Aqsa Mosque by security forces who were rushed to the area. The skirmishes and visit by several hundred Jewish visitors to mark Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning for the destruction of the two Jewish temples, were condemned by Jordan as a “violation.”
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters that foreign ministers from 15 Arab states will meet on August 5 to discuss what he called the “dangerous development” in Jerusalem.
They will discuss “Israeli escalations at al-Aqsa Mosque, continuing settlements, extrajudicial arrests and assassinations and forced displacements” of Palestinians, he said after meeting the League’s chief Nabil al-Arabi at its Cairo headquarters.
Erekat said the meeting had been called by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The meeting will also discuss Palestinian reconciliation efforts and a new Arab bid to end Israeli control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem through the United Nations, Erekat added.
Erekat on Monday also denied that Abbas would resign in two months’ time. Channel 1 TV reported Sunday that the 80-year-old president’s resignation was due to “fatigue,” citing Palestinian officials. There was no official confirmation of the report.
“The Israel press works to hurt the PA every single day,” Erekat claimed, according to Israel Radio.
Meanwhile, PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh condemned the death of a Palestinian youth during an arrest raid on Monday, saying it would force the Palestinians to make “serious decisions,” according to the official Wafa news agency.
The Palestinian teen fell to his death from a roof early Monday morning after he was shot by Israeli police who were attempting to arrest him, police said. Palestinian sources denied that he died in a fall and claimed that he had been executed. It was the third time in the past week that a Palestinian was killed during an arrest attempt.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that “the atmosphere of incitement and racial statements made by the Israeli government’s right-wing” prompted the incident in Qalandiya on Monday.
“In its declared statements, the Israeli government seems to be well determined on violence and counterviolence, and is ostensibly seeking to plunge the Palestinian arena into the circle of violence to avert peacemaking and a negotiated solution to the conflict,” the ministry said, according to Wafa.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have run high in the past week, following the shooting deaths of two other Palestinians by Israeli forces in separate incidents on Wednesday and Thursday, and the approval of the construction of hundreds of homes in the West Bank, ending a de facto construction freeze.
However, Israeli sources told The Times of Israel on Sunday that Interior Minister Silvan Shalom held talks with Erekat in Amman in recent days.
Shalom, a senior Likud lawmaker, also serves as the chief Israeli negotiator in peace talks with the Palestinians. He said in a recent speech at a conference that he believes Israel and the Palestinians “need to renew negotiations and try to reach understandings and agreements.”
He also said at the time that he was in favor of “frank talks that are conducted discreetly,” apparently such as those in Amman.
The official topic and outcome of the recent discussions were unclear, although the meeting was described as a “trust-building” move. It was the latest in a string of clandestine talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials since the new Israeli government was sworn in earlier this year.
Avi Issacharoff and Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.