Palestinian Authority freezes contact with Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he has cut off all contact with Israel in the wake of clashes between Muslim worshippers and Israeli police Friday in Jerusalem’s Old Security.

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In a speech on Palestinian television, Abbas condemned new security measures put in place at Al-Aqsa mosque.

“We reject the metal detectors, as these measures are covered by a fictitious security pretext, which aims at imposing control over Al-Aqsa Mosque and evading the peace process and its entitlements,” he said.
Israeli police pushed Palestinian worshipers back and fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse those who said Friday they prefer to worship in the street rather than go through added security measures to get into a sacred mosque.

Thousands of Muslims held a noon prayer service outside the Al-Aqsa mosque — which is known to Jews as the Temple Mount — rather than go through a rigorous security check.

Extra security, including metal detectors, has been in place for a week due to the shooting deaths of two Israeli police officers by three Palestinians, who themselves died in a shootout after they emerged from the mosque.

Some of the new clashes resulted from protests Friday of a ban on entering the mosque for Muslim men under age 50.

There have been clashes nearly daily between Israeli police and protesters at the holy site, which is managed by a Jordanian trust but located on Israeli-administered territory. Clerics from the trust have asked every mosque in Jerusalem to close to protest the security measures, and urged worshipers to pray outside the Al-Aqsa gates instead of entering.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Friday that three teens were shot and killed in clashes with security forces, in east Jerusalem and not in the area of the mosque, although circumstances remain unclear.

Israel and Jordan maintain the site under a complex arrangement that’s been in place for decades, and any change in the agreement is regarded as a provocation.

Micky Rosenfeld, police spokesman, said a 3,000-member security force has been sent to the area to handle any potential trouble.

In his televised statement, Abbas said he would dedicate $55 million to support Palestinians in East Jerusalem and called for all Palestinians to donate a day’s wages to help.

By Ed Adamczyk and Danielle Haynes