Jordan’s King Abdullah II urged Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to work to calm spiraling tensions Wednesday, hours after Palestinian factions, backed by Abbas, called for violent demonstrations Friday over the Temple Mount.
In a phone call, the two leaders “stressed the importance of continuing coordination to bring the situation back to what it was before the outbreak of the crisis and ensure that the historical and legal status in the Holy Mosque is respected,” according to a statement carried by the Jordan’s Petra news agency.
The official Palestinian Wafa news agency said the two “agreed to unify efforts and maintain consultations.”
Earlier Wednesday, Abbas approved plans by the leaders of the Fatah Tanzim militia to organize mass demonstrations on Friday and in the days after. Meetings on Wednesday took place between representatives of various Palestinian factions at the office of Fatah deputy chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul. Jabal al-Mheissen, responsible for the Tanzim on the Fatah central committee, and former Palestinian intelligence chief Tawfik Tirawi were at the meetings, along with the heads of Fatah’s regional branches in the West Bank. Abbas, who was not present, approved the holding of the meetings, their content, and the decisions that were taken.
The Tanzim, an armed militia loosely affiliated with Fatah, was a key player in violent demonstrations at the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Its leader then was Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in jail for orchestrating deadly terrorism during the Second Intifada.
Jordan, which acts as custodian of the Temple Mount and funds the Waqf Islamic trust that administers site, has played a key role amid the ongoing crisis, sparked after Israel installed metal detectors following an attack at the Mount on July 14 in which three terrorists used guns smuggled into the sacred compound to shoot dead two Israeli policemen guarding outside.
Israel early Tuesday removed the metal detectors and cameras, but Muslim leaders have vowed to continue protesting until all security measures, including metal railings at the Gate of the Tribes entrance to the site, are removed.
Israel’s decision to remove the detectors early Tuesday morning came after a flurry of diplomatic contacts between Jerusalem, Amman and Washington, which also resulted in the return of an Israeli guard who shot and killed two Jordanians at the Israeli Embassy in Amman after being attacked with a screwdriver.
Speaking to Sky News Arabic on Wednesday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said there had been some progress in resolving the dispute over security measures “but the issue remains unresolved.”
“The popular stance on the ground says that there is no solution other than to remove all the measures and obstacles that have been put in place,” he added. “Jordan wants calm, but knows that in order for calm to prevail, the solution must be accepted by the people.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Abbas’s Fatah party called on Palestinians to take to the streets in Jerusalem and the West Bank in protest of the new security measures at the holy site, urging a “day of rage.”
Leaders of Fatah’s Tanzim militia met with Palestinian officials to take part in planning mass demonstrations this Friday.
Fatah’s youth movement issued a statement calling on Palestinians to remain “steadfast” in the defense of Jerusalem, and called for widespread participation in planned protests on Friday.
Senior Fatah leaders called to conduct Friday prayers in public places — not in mosques, in protests at continued security measures at the Temple Mount — as well as general readiness and “escalating” protests “in all of Palestine as an [act of] victory for the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Hamas also joined calls to ramp up protests against Israel, calling for a “day of rage” in the West Bank on Friday, to “respond to the ongoing events in order to deter Israel from continuing its violations against our people and holy places,” according to Channel 2.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II placed a phone call to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, warning him to “respect the historical and legal reality” of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but the Hashemite monarch may done too little, too late.
The conversation followed calls by all factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – which is also headed by Abbas – urging Arabs to participate in the “day of rage” called for by the Palestinian Authority again this coming Friday, despite the removal of all security enhancements at the Temple Mount forced by Jordan and the United States.
This week’s “day of rage” will be led by Fatah’s military wing, Tanzim, headed by Marwan Barghouti. While Barghouti is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for his conviction on charges of masterminding the murders of five people he has, if anything, gained in popularity on the Arab street.
The Tanzim terrorist organization – which was tasked by the Palestinian Authority leadership with heading Friday’s ‘day of rage’ — was pivotal in launching the second intifada in September 2000.
In addition, the “Shabiba” group has vowed to expand the confrontation with Israeli forces, isolating Jewish communities and the roads leading to them in Judea and Samaria, and “opening all fronts, in villages, cities and refugee camps.”
Earlier in the day, the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization claimed “victory” in what it called the “battle over the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Hamas held a parade in Gaza to celebrate the removal of metal detectors Monday night from the entrances to the Temple Mount compound, along with all the security cameras.
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