German FM Praises Easing of Jerusalem Tensions

Frank-Walter Steinmeier hails easing of restrictions on Muslim worshippers - and continuation for Jews - on Temple Mount.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier
German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Flash90

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in talks in Ramallah on Saturday hailed the recent easing of Israeli-Palestinian tensions in Jerusalem, for which he credited the intervention by his US counterpart.

"We welcome the meetings in Amman... which led to an improvement in the situation, especially around the mosques compound," he said, quoted by the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

On Friday, Israel lifted restrictions on Muslims praying at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in the Jordanian capital and announced an agreement on steps to reduce tensions.

The mosque compound, the holiest site in Judaism, has been the focus of months of unrest in Jerusalem.

Palestinians have upped their violent opposition to an increasingly vocal campaign by Jewish activists for the right to pray at the site, where under current rules on Muslims are allowed to pray - despite it being the holiest site for Jews.

Islamists have been regularly clashing with Israeli police on the Mount and escalated a campaign of harassment against Jewish visitors, who are already under severe restrictions due to Muslim pressure. The violence reached a peak with the attempted murder of prominent Jewish Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick last month.

The violence prompted Kerry to meet the two sides in neighboring Jordan on Thursday, after which he announced that "confidence-building measures" had been agreed.

Steinmeier, who held talks in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and is to meet Israeli leaders on Sunday, said a return to the negotiating table was the only way forward.

"At present, there is no room or the necessary conditions for a resumption of negotiations, and the main thing for now is to ease tensions," he said.

But "there is no alternative to negotiations to reach a two-state solution... a Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel."

Steinmeier's visit came as the Palestinians marked the 26th anniversary of a symbolic declaration of independence by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) terrorist group, which at the time met in exile in Algiers.

AFP contributed to this report.


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