Kerry and Abbas meet at the latter's home in
Kerry and Abbas meet at the latter's home in Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry met Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan on Thursday for talks aimed at calming a wave of violence gripping Israel.

The meeting in Amman came hours after fresh clashes broke out in Jerusalem where Israeli police fired tear gas, percussion bombs and rubber bullets to disperse Arab rioters in Issawiya.

Months-long unrest in Jerusalem has in recent days and weeks spread to Judea and Samaria, raising concerns of a new Palestinian terrorist campaign. 

The meeting between Abbas and Kerry, who arrived in Jordan late on Wednesday, came a day after Washington once against criticized Israel for building homes in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Kerry and a sombre-looking Abbas embraced and had a brief whispered exchange as they met at the PA leader's hillside home in Amman where the US and PLO flags hung in front of a large night-time photo of Jerusalem Temple Mount.

Much of the unrest in Jerusalem has been fueled by radical Islamists, egged-on by PA officials, inciting Muslim youths to riot at the Temple Mount, which is Judaism's holiest site and also the site of the Al Aqsa mosque compound. In particular, Palestinian insist Jews not be allowed to even visit the site, let alone pray there as many are increasingly campaigning to do.

Earlier, a tense confrontation erupted in the city's Issawiya neighbourhood as about 100 residents, including schoolchildren, tried to block a main road after police closed off several neighborhood entrances with concrete blocks in response to attacks emanating from them.

Israel's Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said the authorities were on alert for more unrest, after several attacks in recent weeks by terrorists wielding knives or plowing cars into pedestrians.

"I believe there will still be terror attacks and other incidents in the near future," he said.

'Red line'

Abbas's spokesman said the PA leader was expected to tell Kerry of his growing concerns over "Israeli violations," particularly in Jerusalem.

"The Palestinian position will be made crystal clear: the Israeli violations are a red line and cannot be tolerated - especially with the tension and Israeli escalation in Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem," Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

In a letter to the UN Security Council sent on Wednesday, PA ambassador Riyad Mansour demanded international intervention over the Temple Mount, warning that tensions could "spiral out of control".

Despite the rhetoric, Israelis have pointed to a constant stream of incendiary statements by PA officials as proof that it is Palestinian leaders, not Israel, who are inciting violence at the Temple Mount.

Ahead of Kerry's arrival, King Abdullah met Abbas in Amman for talks in which he expressed his "total rejection" of Israel's "repeated aggressions and provocations in Jerusalem," a palace statement said. 

In a bid to prevent armed Islamists from provoking further confrontations on the Temple Mount, Aharonovitch said late Wednesday that he would reinstall metal detectors at the entrances along with new facial-recognition technology.

"We'll increase the supervision of people entering the compound, both Jews and Muslims," he said.  

'Unacceptable to Muslims'

But Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Waqf which runs the compound, rejected the idea.

"This is unacceptable to all Muslims. It cannot be installed," he told AFP

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