World Bulletin/News Desk
Chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat has blamed Israel for ongoing upheaval in Jerusalem, asserting that the self-proclaimed Jewish state's policies had led to "the collapse of the [Israel-Palestine] peace process."
Erekat's statement came during a meeting with foreign officials in the West Bank city of Jericho, according to a Friday statement issued by Erekat's office.
"The Israeli government is wholly responsible for the deteriorating situation [in Jerusalem], which comes as a result of Israel's policy of continuous settlement-building and frequent transgressions against the Al-Aqsa Mosque," the statement read.
Erekat also blamed mounting tension in the historic city on Israel's "forceful displacement of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, the demolition of their homes, the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, and the refusal [by Israel] to release a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners."
He added: "The Israeli government seeks to destroy the two-state solution and entrench its apartheid system in the occupied Palestinian territories."
He went on to hail Sweden's decision earlier this week to recognize the state of Palestine, describing the move as a "paragon of morality and respect of international law."
Israel closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday to all visitors – for the first time since occupying East Jerusalem in 1967 – after an extremist Jewish rabbi was shot and injured in West Jerusalem one day earlier.
Israeli authorities reopened Al-Aqsa on Friday, but banned male Muslim worshippers under 50 years old from entering the religious site.
On Wednesday evening, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man in his East Jerusalem home for allegedly shooting the rabbi, sparking violent clashes with Palestinian protesters that left 20 people injured.
For Muslims, East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the area by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Last Mod: 31 Ekim 2014, 15:49