By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (ANS – October 24, 2015) — Israel and Jordan have agreed on moves aimed at reducing tensions surrounding a prominent holy site in Jerusalem, US Secretary of State John Kerry says.
According to the BBC, issues relating to the complex have been at the center of fresh violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
Mr. Kerry was speaking after talks in Jordan, the formal custodian of what is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims.
He said Israel had renewed a pledge to maintain existing rules there.
In the latest upsurge of violence, at least eight Israelis have been killed and dozens wounded in knife or gun attacks by Palestinians, following rumors that Israel was planning to change the rules – something Israel denies.
“About 50 Palestinians, including several of the attackers, have been killed in recent weeks,” said the BBC.
Mr. Kerry, who is on a tour of the region, met Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman on Saturday.
“All the violence and the incitement to violence must stop. Leaders must lead,” Kerry told reporters.
The steps he announced include round-the-clock video monitoring and Israel’s agreement to reaffirm Jordan’s historic role as custodian of the religious complex.
“There are serious additional issues, security and otherwise, between Israelis and Palestinians that must be addressed but we’ve agreed that this is a first step to creating some space in order to allow us to resume those steps and that dialogue,” he said.
Mr. Kerry met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, and said the talks had raised ideas that were worth exploring.
Later on Saturday, Mr. Kerry was to travel to Saudi Arabia for talks with regional leaders.
In the latest violence, Israeli police said they shot dead a Palestinian attacker in the northern West Bank early on Saturday.
“A terrorist, who arrived armed with a knife, tried to stab a security guard at the site. In response, the terrorist was shot by the security force,” it said, according to AFP news agency.
What is happening between Israelis and Palestinians?
The BBC went on to say that there has been a spate of stabbings of Israelis and some shootings – several of them fatal – by Palestinians since early October, and one apparent revenge stabbing by an Israeli. The attackers have struck in Jerusalem and across Israel, and in the occupied West Bank. Israel has tightened security and its security forces have clashed with rioting Palestinians, leading to deaths on the Palestinian side. The violence has also spread to the border with Gaza.
What’s behind the latest unrest?
“After a period of relative quiet, violence between the two communities has spiraled since clashes erupted at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site in mid-September,” said the BBC story. “It was fueled by rumors among Palestinians that Israel was attempting to alter a long-standing religious arrangement governing the site. Israel repeatedly dismissed the rumors as incitement.
“Soon afterwards, two Israelis were shot dead by Palestinians in the West Bank and the stabbing attacks began. Both Israel and the Palestinian authorities have accused one another of doing nothing to protect each other’s communities.”
Is this a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising?
The BBC added that there have been two organized uprisings by Palestinians against Israeli occupation, in the 1980s and early 2000s. With peace talks moribund, some observers have questioned whether we are now seeing a third. The stabbing attacks seem to be opportunistic and although they have been praised by militant groups, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said Palestinians are not interested in a further escalation.
Photo captions: 1) Violence in the West Bank. 2) Israelis have been targeted in a growing number of apparent lone-wolf attacks (Getty Images). 3) Dan Wooding recording his radio show.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books and has two US-based TV programs and a radio show called “Front Page Radio.”
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