Trump envoy in Israel for crisis talks on Jerusalem site

Updated July 25, 2017

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RAMALLAH: Palestinian men run for cover from tear gas during clashes between demonstrators and Israeli forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, on Monday.─AFP
RAMALLAH: Palestinian men run for cover from tear gas during clashes between demonstrators and Israeli forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, on Monday.─AFP

JERUSALEM: A top aide to US President Donald Trump arrived in Israel on Monday in a bid to ease tensions over new security measures at a highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site after a weekend of deadly violence.

Jason Greenblatt’s visit comes after more than a week of tensions over the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Greenblatt was holding a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with US envoy to Israel David Friedman, an Israeli official said.

Israel installed metal detectors at entrances to the site, which includes Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, following an attack on July 14 that killed two policemen.

Palestinians view the move as Israel asserting further control over the site. They have refused to enter the compound in protest and have prayed in the streets outside.

Israeli authorities say the metal detectors are needed because the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the site and emerged from it to shoot the officers.

Clashes have broken out during protests over the measures, leaving five Palestinians dead.

Three Israelis were also killed when a Palestinian snuck into a house in a West Bank settlement and stabbed them.

Jordan seeks to question guard

An incident on Sunday night in Amman that, according to Israeli officials, saw a Jordanian attack an Israeli security guard with a screwdriver at the Israeli embassy compound raised further concerns. The motives for the alleged attack were unclear.

The security guard shot dead the Jordanian, while a second Jordanian there at the time was also killed — apparently by accident.

A potential diplomatic standoff was brewing over the incident, with Jordan saying it wanted to question the guard but Israel insisting he had diplomatic immunity.

“Jordan has requested to question the Israeli embassy security guard... (and) Israel is still examining the request,” a Jordanian government source said.

Israel’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the guard “has immunity from investigation and imprisonment”.

Netanyahu said he was working to “bring the incident to a close ASAP” and return the security guard to Israel.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday that a senior defence official would travel to Amman to seek to calm the situation.

In the latest incident, police said a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli in the city of Petah Tikva, near the commercial capital Tel Aviv, on Monday morning before being arrested. The victim’s wounds were not thought to be life threatening.

Israeli tank fire also struck a Hamas post in the Gaza Strip after a rocket from the enclave landed in an open area in Israel.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2017