Hundreds of Israeli Jews and Arabs gathered in Jerusalem on Saturday night, calling for an end to the weeks of violence and a resumption of peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
About 1,500 people took part in a demonstration at Gan Hasus (the Horse Park) in Jerusalem, and continued marching through the center of the city. Several right-wing activists protested on the sidelines as well.
In Beersheba, about 150 Arab and Jewish activists gathered to form a human chain in support of peace.
At the Jerusalem protest, the head of the left-wing Meretz party MK Zahava Gal-On called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to reject the French proposal to deploy international observers to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in response to the current round of violence.
“With the constant tension and volatile situation as the conflict is about to become a religious one, the government should take steps and back international initiatives to restore calm,” she said.
Netanyahu on Saturday slammed the French proposal, calling it a fundamentally absurd idea.
France submitted a draft proposal on the issue to the UN Security Council on Friday evening, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.
“Those who brought in explosive devices and threw fireworks were Palestinians who turned the Temple Mount into a terror warehouse,” Netanyahu said. “Israel is upholding the status quo [at the site] and is committed to that.”
The violence began last month and has in recent weeks escalated into near-daily terror attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces. So far this month, seven Israelis have been killed and many others wounded in 31 separate stabbing attacks by Palestinians.
The Palestinians claim that Israel is seeking to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, a charge that Israel vehemently denies. Jews can visit but not pray at the Mount, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque.