King’s contact with U.S helped ease Al-Aqsa mosque tensions says Saudi Arabia

King’s contact with U.S helped ease Al-Aqsa mosque tensions says Saudi Arabia

Thursday, July 27, 2017 10:52 am

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of S. Arabia

Saudi Arabia said on Thursday King Salman had been in contact with the U.S. and other world powers to try to defuse religious tensions and prevent Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City being closed to Muslims.

Israel overnight removed all security infrastructure it had put in place this month at Muslim entrances to the al-Aqsa mosque compound and on Thursday Muslim elders urged worshippers to return there to pray.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Abdulaziz al-Saud, has held contacts with many world leaders over the past few days,” the announcement from the Saudi royal court, published by state news agency SPA, said.

Saudi Arabia is custodian of Islam’s most revered places in Mecca and Medina while Jordan is the custodian of Al-Aqsa mosque, its third holiest site, which is also revered by Jews.

King Salman contacted the U.S. government and called for an end to restrictions on entry to the mosque, the statement said, saying that developments showed this push had been successful.

The king “stressed the need for the return of calm,” and called for respect for the sanctity of the compound, it said.

NAN reports that Muslim elders encouraged faithful to return to pray at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa

Mosque on Thursday after deeming that Israel had removed all security measures installed after an attack in the Old City that sparked violence.

The elders announced their decision after a report from the Waqf, a Jordaninan-backed body that oversees the Muslim religious sites in Jerusalem.

Israel installed metal detectors, cameras and other measures following a July 14 attack in which two policemen were shot dead.

Days of violent protests followed.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for calm, saying there was the risk of an explosion of violence.

Tensions around the holy site have led to long periods of unrest in the past, including the second Palestinian uprising or Intifada, which left thousands dead from 2000 to 2004.

“I am particularly concerned about the potential risk of escalating violence, urge all political, religious and community leaders to refrain from provocative action and rhetoric, and call on Israel to demonstrate restraint,” Guterres said.

Amateur video shot overnight showed Israeli contractors dismantling gantries put up to hold security cameras and using forklift trucks to take away metal barriers from the marbled Lion’s Gate entrance to the mosque compound.

Witnesses said all the security devices had been removed and crowds of Palestinians gathered in the early hours to celebrate.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri confirmed the removal.

“Everything that was installed after the attack (the killing of the two police officers) was taken down overnight,” she said.


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