Abbas warns of risk of new Palestinian intifada

Tensions are high after days of clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque site during the Jewish New Year last week

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Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas warned Tuesday of the “risk of an intifada” if clashes over the Al-Aqsa mosque compound continue, after a meeting with French leader Francois Hollande in Paris.

“What is happening is very dangerous,” Abbas said, calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “stop” the chaos at the flashpoint holy site.

Abbas warned against “an intifada (uprising) which we don’t want.”

Tensions are high after days of clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque site during the Jewish New Year last week.

The mosque, located at the site of what Jews venerate as the sacred Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, is in east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Al-Aqsa is also the third holiest site in Islam and is believed to be where the Prophet Mohammed made his night journey to heaven.

Muslims have been alarmed by an increase in visits by Jews to the site and fear rules governing the compound will be changed. Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray, to avoid provoking tensions.

Netanyahu has said repeatedly he is committed to the status quo at the site.

Israeli authorities fear further trouble ahead when the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha coincides on Wednesday with the solemn Jewish fast of Yom Kippur.

Hollande called for “peace, calm and the respect of principles.”

“I expressed our attachment to the status quo over the mosque compound,” he said after the talks with Abbas.

Abbas’ visit to France comes shortly before the United Nations General Assembly in New York where he will oversee the raising of the Palestinian flag at the United Nations.

On the same day as the flag-raising, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host a meeting of the Middle East Quartet seeking a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The peace process slipped into a deep coma after a failed US diplomatic effort in April last year.

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, along with the secretary general of the Arab League, will attend in a bid to broaden the search for a way back to the negotiating table.

Palestinian killed

A 21-year-old Palestinian died during an Israeli army operation in the southern West Bank before dawn on Tuesday in circumstances that were unclear.

Palestinian security officials named him as Dia al-Talahmeh and said he was shot dead by Israeli troops.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said he had been killed by a makeshift bomb he had been preparing to throw at the patrol but did not say whether or not the troops had opened fire.

The spokeswoman said the patrol had been deployed to clear stones blocking a road outside the flashpoint city of Hebron.

“The soldiers heard an explosion and during a search of the sector they found the body of a Palestinian killed by the explosive device he intended to throw at one of our vehicles,” she said.

Separately on Tuesday morning, Israeli troops shot and wounded a Palestinian woman at a checkpoint near the centre of Hebron, witnesses said. The Israeli military said she had attempted to stab a soldier.

The woman was identified as 18-year-old university student Hadeel al-Hashlamon.

She was taken to an Israeli hospital in critical condition and her father, Salah al-Hashlamon, said she later died of her injuries.

"An attack was thwarted when a Palestinian attempted to stab an (Israeli) soldier at a military position in Hebron," an army statement said.

"(Israeli) forces responded, fired towards the perpetrator and identified a hit."

Tensions have been running high across the West Bank, including Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, ahead of the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday which begins at sundown on Tuesday.

The Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday begins on Wednesday evening and continues until Sunday.

Israel has deployed thousands of extra police in east Jerusalem and closed it off from the rest of the West Bank.