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Heavy security as Muslims pray in tense Jerusalem

Israel deployed more than 1,300 police to deal with possible violence as Muslim worshippers flock to a contested holy site in Jerusalem

Published: Updated:

As the European Union’s new foreign affairs chief warned of a new wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence if there is no progress towards peace talks, Israel deployed on Friday more than 1,300 police to deal with possible violence as Muslim worshippers flock to a hotly contested holy site in Jerusalem for weekly prayers.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told the Associated Press that the officers were deployed Friday “to maintain law and order in the area.”

The deployment came two days after riot police clashed with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third- holiest shrine. Samri said worshippers Friday would be limited to women and men over 35.

Israeli-Palestinian confrontations have been escalating in Jerusalem, including near-daily clashes between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli riot police. Palestinians have also carried out two deadly vehicle attacks in recent weeks.

At one access road leading to Al-Aqsa, some 500 young Palestinians knelt in prayer in front of dozens of black-garbed Israeli riot police.

Meanwhile, the European Union’s new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini warned Friday of a new wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Speaking in Jerusalem on her first visit to the region since taking up the EU’s top diplomatic post, Mogherini said there was a real “urgency” to pick up and advance the moribund peace process.

“The risk is that if we do not move forward on the political track, we will go back... again to violence,” Agence France-Presse quoted her as telling reporters at a joint news conference with her Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman.

“That’s why I see the urgency in moving forward.”

But she also flagged up Israel’s settlement building on lands the Palestinians want for a future state as an “obstacle” to a negotiated peace.

“New settlements are an obstacle as we see (it) but we also see that there might be a political will... to resume the talks and specially (to) make sure that these talks bring to results,” she said.

Mogherini is on a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, holding talks with her Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman at 0630 GMT before meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at 0730 GMT.


(With Associated Press and AFP)