Israel pledges to reopen Jerusalem flash-point



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14/10/30  Jerusalem - Israel shut the Al-Aqsa mosque compound then promised to reopen it, after clashes in east Jerusalem where police killed a Palestinian accused of trying to murder a hardline rabbi. The pledge also came after Arab and US calls for the Jewish state to reopen the Holy City flashpoint. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP the shrine would open early Friday "for dawn prayers, after midnight" following its first closure in decades. Israel said its clampdown on the shrine, which is holy to Jews and Muslims alike, was a temporary measure aimed at calming tempers. Samri said that because of fear of unrest at Friday midday prayers, entry for Muslim men would be restricted to those over 50. There would be no restrictions on Muslim women. Non-Muslims are routinely not allowed access. closure brought Arab and US calls for Muslim worshippers to be allowed access, and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas condemned it as an Israeli "declaration of war". Wednesday night s wounding of the rabbi and the subsequent killing of the suspected gunman sent tensions soaring to a new high, following months of almost daily clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in Jerusalem s occupied eastern sector.

Officials from the Islamic Waqf which administers the compound said it was the first closure since Israel seized Arab east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.

"This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation," Abbas said through his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, warning it would only fuel "more tension and instability".

Jordan s Islamic affairs minister, Hayel Daoud, said it amounted to a case of Israeli "state terrorism". Under its 1994 peace treaty with Israel, Jordan has responsibility for Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.