Palestinian Muslim leaders rule out immediate return of worshippers to Al Aqsa

Palestinian Muslim leaders rule out immediate return of worshippers to Al Aqsa

United Nations Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned on Monday that a solution was needed by Friday to the Jerusalem mosque crisis, which he said threatens to have "potential catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the Old City.", Reuters reports.

The late-night decision came after days of violence and unrest that peaked across Israel and the West Bank following Friday prayers, when three Israelis were stabbed to death in a settlement and four Palestinians killed in protests.

Five Palestinians have been killed since Friday in clashes with Israeli police, as Palestinians have poured into the streets of east Jerusalem to protest the placement of metal detectors at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest shrine.

376 of the injuries documented occurred in Jerusalem (al-Quds), with one Jerusalemite injured with live fire, 193 Jerusalemites injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, 14 Jerusalemites suffered from severe tear gas inhalation, and 168 Jerusalemites who were "assaulted and run over".

As word spread of the decision, a few hundred Palestinians gathered to celebrate near an entrance to the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. The problem is any Israeli-led initiative is likely to be rejected by the Palestinians and possibly Jordan. Israel Police officials met with managers of leading security companies in Israel to discuss security means that could potentially replace the metal detectors. Yet many Palestinians are upset that more and more religious-nationalist Jews visit the compound each day, with some attempting to pray. It quoted an official Jordanian source as saying that "deep discussions had taken place with the Israeli side regarding Al Aqsa mosque, hinting at concessions to be made by the Israeli side, including removal of metal detectors and reducing tensions at Al Aqsa".

There was speculation that a separate diplomatic standoff may have helped push negotiations to remove the metal detectors along.

According to the report, U.S. involvement in the attempts to ease the tensions that escalated with the placement of the metal detectors at the Temple Mount began as early as last week.

It was not clear if the compromise would be accepted by Muslim and Palestinian leaders who had demanded a return to the security arrangements that were in place before the mid-July shooting attack.

Jordan said initially that the guard could leave only after an investigation, while Israel said he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. But cabinet ministers reportedly said otherwise.

As custodian, Jordan has the final say over Muslim policies at the shrine, but also needs to consider public opinion, including among Palestinians in the Holy Land.

A guard at the Israeli embassy in Amman shot two Jordanians dead on Sunday night after being attacked with a screwdriver, sparking a fresh crisis between the two countries. A second Jordanian who died was inadvertently killed by the gunfire, Israel said.

"The Israel Police treated Palestinian residents as if they were enemy soldiers, rather than as a civilian population for whose wellbeing and security it is responsible", a spokesperson added.

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