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Israel Removes Metal Detectors From Around al-Aqsa Mosque

Israel installed metal detectors at entry points to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on 16 July triggering the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

It is the third holiest site of Islam and houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques. Jordan is the Muslim custodian of the site that is also holy to Jews.

Muslim worshippers have stayed away from the sacred compound since Israel installed metal detectors there last week.

As we reported, a spokesman for Netanyahu denied any relationship between the diplomatic standoff and the metal detectors.

Just a few hours earlier, Israel and Jordan resolved a diplomatic stand-off late after a day of top-level negotiations that ended with the evacuation of Israeli embassy staff from their base in Jordan. Jordanian police said the teen attacked the guard with a screwdriver during a furniture delivery, and that the Israeli opened fire, killing Jawawdeh and a bystander.

Palestinians view the move as Israel asserting further control over the site. Israel claimed diplomatic immunity on his behalf.

Initially, Jordan had refused to let the guard leave without an investigation, but he and all other embassy staff returned to Israel on Monday.

The decision by Israel to remove the scanners represents a win for the Palestinians, who had vowed not to pass through the detectors.

"We need to know all the details before we decide to pray inside the compound", said Mohammed Hussein, the top Muslim cleric, or mufti, in Jerusalem.

For their part, many Israelis scoff at that kind of talk. What remains to be seen is whether the Palestinians can accept this compromise.

NPR's Daniel Estrin, reporting from one of the entrances to the site, tells our Newscast unit that "the metal detectors have been removed, which is what Muslim leaders were calling for".

Over the past week, all men under 50 were prevented from entering, and anyone wanting to pray was forced to go through a metal detector.

"In a phone call on Monday night, Jordan's King Abdullah and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu discussed the crisis surrounding the holy site and the incident at the embassy".

He was referring to the site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It said the measure would "ensure the security of visitors and worshippers" at the holy site and in Jerusalem's Old City and the police presence would increase in the area until the new security measures were in place.

Seeking to help ease the soaring tensions, the Trump administration dispatched presidential envoy Jason Greenblatt to the region Sunday night, after a weekend of diplomatic outreach that involved telephone calls from Greenblatt, White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and the USA ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

"Jason Greenblatt arrived in Israel Monday afternoon".

Greenblatt's visit is open-ended, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the behind-the-scenes US engagement.



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