Netanyahu Scraps Germany Trip as Violence in Israel Spreads

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a visit to Germany as violence between Palestinians and Israelis continued despite steps to curb it.

A Palestinian man was shot dead in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat Wednesday after he stabbed a soldier and tried to flee with his rifle, police said. Earlier in the day, a Palestinian woman was shot and seriously wounded after she tried to stab a Jewish passerby in Jerusalem’s old city.

The series of attacks prompted Netanyahu to cancel a meeting in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel scheduled for Thursday, his office said by e-mail.

“The prime minister will remain in Israel to closely monitor the situation,” according to the statement.

Police reported a third incident later on Wednesday in which a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli man outside a mall in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petach Tikva. The victim suffered moderate injuries, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a text message.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have blamed each other for the upsurge in tension, much of it stemming from disagreement over a Jerusalem shrine, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and as the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. Four Israelis and four Palestinians have been killed over the past week, and dozens more have been wounded on both sides in incidents and clashes in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Netanyahu has ordered new security measures in a bid to stop the violence, including easing open-fire orders for Israeli troops and expediting the demolition of homes of Palestinians convicted of attacks.

Rising Tension

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that Israel is to blame for the unrest, citing Jewish settlement growth, attacks on Palestinian property by Jewish extremists, and what he called Israeli “aggression” at the holy site.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told a press conference Thursday that some radical Muslim elements, including an Islamic movement based in the country’s north, are deliberately inciting tensions over the Jerusalem shrine.

The government “has no intention of creating any kind of change in the status quo” at Temple Mount, he said.

Israeli and Palestinian peace talks have been frozen for over a year, after the latest round of U.S.-mediated negotiations collapsed in April, 2014.

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