Donald Trump heads to Israel to ease tensions at Jerusalem holy site

Vastavam web: A top aide to US President Donald Trump was due in Israel today in a bid to ease tensions over new security measures at a highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site after a weekend of deadly violence. Jason Greenblatt’s visit comes after more than a week of tensions over the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and central to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Palestinians view the move as Israel asserting further control over the site. They have refused to enter the compound in protest and have prayed in the streets outside.

Israeli authorities say the metal detectors are needed because the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the site and emerged from it to shoot the officers. An incident last night in Amman that, according to Israeli officials, saw a Jordanian attack an Israeli security guard with a screwdriver at the Israeli embassy compound raised further concerns, though it was not immediately clear if there was any link. The security guard was said to have shot dead the Jordanian, while a second Jordanian there at the time was also killed. Separately today, Israeli tank fire struck a Hamas post in the Gaza Strip after what was believed to be a rocket from the enclave landed in an open area in Israel.The UN Security Council will also hold closed-door talks today about the spiralling violence after Egypt, France and Sweden sought a meeting to “urgently discuss how calls for de-escalation in Jerusalem can be supported”.

Israeli officials have signalled they may be open to changing the measures at the holy site. Cameras have been installed at entrances in a possible indication of an alternative to the metal detectors. Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit on Sunday accused Israel of “playing with fire” with the new security measures, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called them an insult to the Muslim world. Pope Francis said he was following events with concern and urged dialogue and moderation. Friday’s main weekly Muslim prayers – which typically draw thousands to Al-Aqsa – brought the situation to a boil