Abbas Defies U.S. Demands to Reduce Tensions Over Temple Mount

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is refusing demands from the White House to stop incitement over the Temple Mount and call for an end to protests, Haaretz reported Thursday.

U.S. officials urged the PA to de-escalate tensions, citing Israeli efforts to defuse the situation in the wake of a July 14 terror attack at the Temple Mount that killed two Israeli police officers, an anonymous source told the paper. In the face of continued Palestinian protests, Israel removed the metal detectors and security cameras it placed at the entrance to the complex.

A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz “that there have been attempts to calm tensions and prevent an escalation over the past two days, but the Palestinians decided to continue with their protest.”

The official added that Abbas refused to meet with U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt, who traveled to the Middle East in an effort to de-escalate tensions over the Temple Mount.

The head of the Waqf—the Jordan-based Islamic trust that administers the Temple Mount—called on Muslims to boycott the holy site as long as the security measures remained in place.

Later Thursday, Abbas and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem announced that the boycott of the Temple Mount was over and encouraged Muslims to return to the site, claiming victory for having the security measures removed. Abbas has not been clear on whether he was restoring security coordination with Israel, which he had broken off in protest of the security measures.

Clashes erupted at the holy site on Thursday, with The Times of Israel reporting that 46 people were injured as Muslim worshipers pelted police officers with rocks and raised Palestinian flags near the al-Aqsa Mosque, which Israeli police said were removed.

Last week, the White House released a statement supporting Israel concern to find “a solution that assures public safety and the security of the site.” A subsequent White House statement released earlier this week praised “the efforts of Israel to maintain security while reducing tensions in the region.”

After meeting with U.S. officials last month, Abbas refused their request to stop paying generous salaries to terrorists. In May, an adviser to Abbas called the U.S. request to end payments to terrorists “insane.”

When Abbas visited Washington earlier that month, Trump told the Palestinian president that there would be “no lasting peace”with Israel “unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence.”

[Photo: Flash90]