Israel Rejects French Plan for Observers at Jerusalem ShrineCalev Ben-David and Jonathan Ferziger
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a French proposal for placing international observers at a Jerusalem shrine that has become a flashpoint spurring a wave of Palestinian attacks.
In the latest incident Sunday, several people were injured in a shooting and stabbing attack by two Arab assailants at the central bus station in the southern city of Beersheba, police said. One Israeli and one of the attackers were killed, Channel Two television reported.
Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have blamed each other for the violence while calling for an end to the bloodshed. Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians have been frozen since the latest round of U.S.-mediated negotiations collapsed in 2014.
French ambassador to the United Nations Francois Delattre said Friday he would circulate a draft of the plan attempting to ease tensions at the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Palestinians as the Noble Sanctuary. Palestinian accusations that Israel is seeking to change long-standing regulations governing the shrine have helped fuel the surge in violence.
“Israel cannot accept the French draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council,” Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “It doesn’t mention Palestinian incitement; it doesn’t mention Palestinian terrorism; and it calls for the internationalization of the Temple Mount.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Paris he will meet Netanyahu when the Israeli leader travels to Germany on Wednesday, and then meet later in the week with Abbas in the Middle East.
Nine Israelis have been killed this month by Palestinian attackers using knives, firearms and vehicles as weapons. In turn, at least 35 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, half of them after attacks on Israelis and the other half in clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Palestinian leaders say some of those shot by Israeli security forces were unarmed or didn’t pose a lethal threat, making their killings war crimes.
Israel captured the three areas in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed east Jerusalem in 1980 and pulled its troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005. The areas are considered occupied territory by the Palestinians and most countries. Israel says they are disputed, and their final status must be determined in peace negotiations.
Israeli police Sunday erected temporary barriers in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebel Mukaber, saying they were intended to prevent the hurling of stones and firebombs at motorists and nearby Jewish homes. “This has no political meaning; it’s one more aspect of our security measures,” Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahson said.
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