In his meeting on Saturday with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for the ongoing tensions in Jerusalem.
According to the WAFA news agency, the PA’s Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki, who spoke at a press conference following Abbas’s meeting with Steinmeier, said, “President Abbas briefed the German guest on the latest developments as well as the latest escalation triggered by the Israeli government in occupied Jerusalem, especially in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.”
Abbas, according to al-Malki, “Affirmed the Palestinian leadership’s position to de-escalate tensions in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and maintain the status quo that has been in effect since 1967. He also stressed that if Israel is serious about [its intention] to de-escalate the situation, it has to comply with this status quo, allow worshipers entry into the mosque without any barriers or complications and provide them with all possible facilitations.”
On Friday, Israel lifted restrictions on Muslims praying at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, which has been the focus of months of unrest in Jerusalem.
Palestinian Arabs 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 Muslims are allowed to pray, while Jews are being restricted from doing so.
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.
Earlier it was reported that Steinmeier, in talks in Ramallah, hailed the easing of tensions in Jerusalem, for which he credited the intervention by his U.S. counterpart, John Kerry.
The German foreign minister also said that "there is no alternative to negotiations to reach a two-state solution... a Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel."