(JTA) – The White House lauded Israel for dismantling metal detectors near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem that had spurred violent clashes between Muslims and Israeli police, but Palestinian officials called for sustained protests.
“The United States applauds the efforts of Israel to maintain security while reducing tensions in the region,” press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday after Israel’s actions earlier in the day.
The metal detectors were removed amid an escalation of violent protests in the West Bank and of anti-Israel rhetoric across the Muslim world. At least five Palestinians were killed in clashes. They had been installed two weeks ago earlier following the slaying of two police officers by three Arab-Israeli terrorists.
The White House hailed the decision “despite the demonstrated need to enhance security at the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif in the wake of the murder of two Israeli police officers at the site on July 14,” Spicer said.
Meanwhile, in a statement Tuesday, the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Palestinians to “increase resistance and show up in vast masses for popular resistance” on Friday, the Amad news site reported Wednesday.
Fatah’s Central Committee deputy secretary, Sabri Sidem, added that “the Central Committee confirms the commitment to the position of religious authorities not to retreat.”
The security devices were taken away hours after the initiation of talks on ending a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Jordan started by the shooting death of a 17-year-old at the Israeli Embassy in Amman after he stabbed an Israeli security guard. A Jordanian bystander also was killed, by a stray shot. The teen had been delivering furniture to the embassy; Jordan said he and the guard got into an argument before the stabbing.
Jordan had demanded the officer be detained and questioned, but Israel invoked his diplomatic immunity. Israel has agreed to pay damages to the family of the slain bystander, according to the Israel Broadcasting Corp.
The guard was among 30 Israeli embassy staffers who were holed up inside the embassy building Monday following the incident but have since returned to Israel.