Arab ministers to meet after Jerusalem clashes

Chief Palestinian negotiator Erakat said that foreign ministers from 15 Arab states will meet on Aug. 5 in Cairo

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Arab League foreign ministers will meet in Cairo early next month to discuss clashes involving Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, a senior Palestinian official said Monday.

Sunday’s incident saw Israeli police enter the mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, as they clashed with Palestinians angered by Jews’ access to the compound on an annual day of Jewish mourning.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told reporters that foreign ministers from 15 Arab states will meet on August 5 to discuss what he called the “dangerous development” in Jerusalem.

They will discuss “Israeli escalations at Al-Aqsa mosque, continuing settlements, extra-judicial arrests and assassinations and forced displacements” of Palestinians, he said after meeting the league’s chief Nabil Al-Arabi at its Cairo headquarters.

Erakat said the meeting had been called by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

The 15 ministers represent Arab countries involved in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that calls for an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories in exchange for full normalisation of ties with the Arab world.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been comatose since a failed US diplomatic effort in April last year, and a war in the Gaza Strip last summer killed about 2,200 Palestinians.

The meeting will also discuss Palestinian reconciliation efforts and a new Arab bid to end the Israeli occupation through the United Nations, Erakat said.

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