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Israeli security cabinet: No decision on Jerusalem holy site

Israel has removed controversial metal detectors at the entrance to a holy site in Jerusalem, aiming to ease tension after days of protests.

The Israeli cabinet convenes, with officials not ruling out removing the metal detectors if a satisfactory alternative to them is approved by police.

Israel's security cabinet chose to remove the metal detectors at entry points to the shrine, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The UN Security Council plans to discuss the unrest on Monday.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Middle East Quartet - Russia, the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations - expressed concerns over the escalating tensions. Muslims, heeding the call of their community groups, boycotted prayers at the site and instead held them in public squares or outside the holy site. They were placed following a July 14 terror attack, during which two Israeli police officers were shot dead just outside the compound by three Arab Israelis who used guns they had smuggled into the holy site. On Friday, the holiest day of the week for Muslims, thousands of Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Observers noted that the European Union statement mentioned first that the three Palestinians were killed before the murder of the three Israelis by a Palestinian terorist.

Israel insisted the guard had diplomatic immunity and was seeking his swift return home.

Muslims take part in a protest against Israel's new security measures at the entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque compound, in Gaza City July 21, 201. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to all cooperation - including security - with Israel, in what many believe to be dramatic, but unrealistic. There has been speculation that they are meant to replace the metal detectors, but Israeli security sources have been quoted as saying that is not the case.

On Thursday, there were calls for Netanyahu to back down and remove the metal detectors so as not to inflame the situation.

Abul Gheit said Israeli moves could trigger a "crisis with the Arab and Muslim world". In 2000, after then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited, Palestinians took it as a provocation. The same day three members of a Jewish family were murdered in a stabbing attack at a settlement on the West Bank.

The Israeli army said the 19-year-old Palestinian had spoken in a Facebook post of the holy site and of dying as a martyr. Jordan has legal custody over the Old City of Jerusalem and its religious sites.



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