Members of the Arab Ministerial Committee pose for a photo ahead of a meeting in Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday. Reuters
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, emphasised the significance of calming the situation and ceasing any practices that violate the sanctity of the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque.
In a phone call with the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yair Lapid, the two ministers discussed bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries.
They also discussed the situation in the region and the latest regional and international developments of mutual concern.
Sheikh Abdullah emphasised the need to respect the legal and historical status quo of Jerusalem and to respect the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s guardianship over its holy places under international law.
The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation welcomed the Israeli government’s decision to halt the ‘Israeli Flags March’ from reaching the Bab Al Amud area, as well as to prevent non-Muslim visitors from entering the Al Aqsa courtyards from Friday until the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
‘’Our region needs stability and to work together in order to move forward in development along all paths so as to achieve the aspirations of our peoples for progress and prosperity,” Sheikh Abdullah said.
He also congratulated the Israeli Foreign Minister on the occasion of Passover and said that he looks forward to enhancing joint cooperation with the State of Israel in all domains and to work together to boost peace and stability in the region.
Meanwhile, the Arab League called on Israel on Thursday to end Jewish prayers inside the compound of Islam’s third holiest shrine in East Jerusalem, warning it was a flagrant affront to Muslim feelings that could trigger wider conflict.
They said while Israel was restricting the right of worship of Muslims in Jerusalem’s Old City, ultra-nationalist Jews under police protection were being allowed at the height of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan to enter the Al Aqsa mosque compound.
“Our demands are clear that Al Aqsa and Haram Al Sharif in all its area is a sole place of worship for Muslims,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi told reporters alongside the Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit after an emergency meeting in Amman on the matter.
Gheit said Israel was violating centuries-old policy according to which non-Muslims may visit the Al Aqsa compound, Islam’s third most sacred site after Makkah and Medinah, but not pray there.
Tensions this year have been heightened in part by Ramadan coinciding with the Jewish celebration of Passover.
“These violations are a blatant affront and provocation of Muslim feelings everywhere and they risk a cycle of violence that threatens security and stability in the region and the world,” the Arab League said in a statement.
Safadi, who spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week, met senior US State Department officials touring the region on Wednesday to discuss reducing tensions.
Safadi said he received assurances Israel would halt Jewish worshippers entry to Al Aqsa in the last 10 days of Ramadan that starts on Friday, a move widely expected to help defuse tensions.
Meanwhile, Israel said on Thursday it was enforcing a long-standing ban on Jewish prayer at the compound of Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, rejecting an Arab League accusation that it was allowing such worship to take place.
Palestinians have been outraged by repeated visits by Israeli Jews to the site, the third-holiest in Islam and the holiest in Judaism.
Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip and Israeli warplanes exchanged fire Thursday in the biggest escalation in months, followed by fresh violence at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al Aqsa mosque.
On Thursday morning, Israeli police fired tear gas and multiple stun grenades inside the compound, journalists reported.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said that over the past week Israeli forces had “forcefully removed worshippers” from the mosque, “using rubber-coated metal bullets, batons, tear gas canisters and pepper spray in enclosed spaces.”
It said it had treated 202 people wounded in the violence since last Friday.
The UAE stressed the need to support all regional and international efforts to advance the peace process in the Middle East. It also underscored the need to end illegal Israeli practices that threaten the two-state solution.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) reaffirmed the UAE's firm position on the need to provide full protection for Al-Aqsa Mosque, and halt serious and provocative violations taking place there.
In a statement today, Afra Mahash Al Hameli, Director MoFAIC said that the UAE expresses its deep concern over the current escalation and calls for exercising maximum restraint, to prevent being drawn into new levels of violence and instability.
Video footage showed the police firing at a group of journalists holding cameras and loudly identifying themselves as members of the press. At least three Palestinian reporters were wounded by rubber bullets fired by police.
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The suspect was identified as security guard/laundryman Omprakash Kanojia, 32, hailing from Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh, whose body was recovered on the railway tracks near Charni Road railway station on Tuesday morning.