Israel and Jordan strike deal on Jerusalem holy site

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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.
Issues relating to the complex have been
at the centre 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 rumours 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.
‘First step’
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,”
Mr 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 will 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?
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
spiralled since clashes erupted at a
flashpoint Jerusalem holy site in mid-
September. It was fuelled by rumours
among Palestinians that Israel was
attempting to alter a long-standing
religious arrangement governing the site.
Israel repeatedly dismissed the rumours
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?
There have been two organised 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.
What is driving the latest violence?

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