Clashes at Jerusalem refugee camp as EU urges progress
Stone-throwing Palestinians battled Israeli police in a refugee camp in east Jerusalem Friday as the top EU diplomat warned of a new wave of violence if peace efforts remain deadlocked.
Jerusalem: Stone-throwing Palestinians battled Israeli police in a refugee camp in east Jerusalem Friday as the top EU diplomat warned of a new wave of violence if peace efforts remain deadlocked.
Clashes shook the Shuafat camp for a third straight day with security forces firing tear gas at crowds of youths who set light to tyres and rubbish bins.
The camp descended into chaos on Wednesday after one of its residents deliberately ran down two groups of pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing a border policeman and injuring another nine people before being shot dead.
On Friday, a young Israeli also died of injuries sustained in the attack -- the second of its kind in a fortnight.
Police barred men of 35 and under from attending the main weekly Muslim prayers at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City, for fear of a repetition of heavy clashes there earlier this week that prompted Jordan to recall its ambassador.
Police said that in the event the Old City was calm and 15,000 worshippers prayed at Al-Aqsa without incident, with more than 1,300 police deployed to maintain order.
Annexed east Jerusalem has been engulfed by violence over the past four months, with clashes occurring on an almost daily basis in several flashpoint Palestinian neighbourhoods.
Community officials say the wave of unrest is fuelled by a sense of hopelessness resulting from Israel`s policies in east Jerusalem, which have left many youths with a sense they have nothing to lose.
The anger has been further fuelled by Israel`s ongoing settlement activities in the eastern sector of the city as well as efforts by far-right Jewish fringe groups to secure prayer rights at the Al-Aqsa compound, which is holy to Jews as well as Muslims.Speaking on her first official visit to Jerusalem, the European Union`s new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said there was a real "urgency" to pick up and advance the moribund peace process.
"The risk is that if we do not move forward on the political track, we will go back... again to violence," she told reporters.
"That`s why I see the urgency in moving forward."
But she also flagged up Israel`s settlement building on lands the Palestinians want for a future state as an "obstacle" to a negotiated peace.
Shortly afterwards, Mogherini met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who gave a terse statement dismissing all criticism of his settlement policy.
"I reject the fictitious claim that the root of the continuous conflict is this or that settlement," he said.
"Jerusalem is our capital and as such is not a settlement." Netanyahu ordered the security forces to either seal up or demolish the homes of any Palestinian involved in anti-Israeli attacks, an official told AFP on Friday.
He said the decision was "approved" at a security meeting late on Thursday as part of a package of measures to restore calm in the city.
Before implementation, each demolition order would have to be approved by the ministry of justice, he said.
Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer who tracks developments in east Jerusalem, told AFP that the last time such a punitive demolition was carried out was in April 2009 when the security forces razed the home of an east Jerusalem Palestinian who had killed three Israelis a year earlier.
Meanwhile, the head of Jordan`s Muslim Brotherhood called on Amman to scrap the 1994 peace treaty with Israel over its actions at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, where the Hashemite kingdom has custodial rights.
Earlier this week, Jordan recalled its ambassador after several hours of heavy clashes at the compound between police and Palestinian stone-throwers who were bent on preventing a visit by a far-right Jewish fringe group.
"Recalling the ambassador is a futile measure. It does not change anything. We demand on behalf of the people the scrapping of the shameful treaty," Brotherhood chief Hammam Saeed told a rally in Amman.
In Jerusalem, a lone voice could be heard urging Jewish groups to halt their visits to the mosque compound, which is known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Speaking at the funeral of the young man killed in Wednesday`s car attack, Sephardi chief rabbi Yitzhak Yosef urged Jews to stop going to Temple Mount, warning it was only "adding oil to the fire."
"We must stop this incitement," he said in remarks broadcast on public radio.
"Only then will the shedding of the blood of the people of Israel end."