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Abbas warns of ‘unstoppable’ escalation if Israel changes status quo of occupied Jerusalem

December 30, 2021 at 6:01 pm

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas during a Christmas lunch with members of the Christian Orthodox community on January 6, 2017, in Beit Sahur, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]

Changes to the religious status quo of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem could lead to an “unstoppable” escalation, President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly warned Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, according to Israeli sources which have been releasing details of their recent meeting.

Gantz hosted Abbas on Tuesday night at his home on Rosh Ha’ayin. The city was founded in 1949 on the depopulated Palestinian village of Majdal Yaba. It marked the first time the Palestinian leader held talks with a senior official in the occupation for over a decade.

The meeting, which has been condemned by various Palestinian factions, is said to have lasted for two and a half hours and included the head of the Israeli military branch responsible for civil affairs in the Palestinian territories, Ghasan Alyan, senior PA official, Hussein Al Sheikh and Palestinian Intelligence Chief, Majid Faraj.

Full details of the meeting, however, have not been released by the PA and much of the reporting on what was said behind closed doors has been reported by Israeli sources.

Abbas has, apparently, asked Gantz to strengthen him “politically” in return for ending Palestinian efforts to have Israel tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation (Kan) reported yesterday. “Deepening security coordination” between the PA and Israel was also discussed.

Abbas’ warning about “unstoppable” violence in occupied Jerusalem was reported by both Channel 12 and 13. Abbas is said to have told Gantz that he would not support a return to violence in the West Bank “even if a gun was held to my head.” However, Abbas warned Gantz he was concerned about violence erupting in occupied Jerusalem, particularly surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. If there was a change to religious elements on the holy site, it would lead to an “unstoppable” escalation, Abbas is reported as saying.

READ: PA president asks Israel to strengthen him politically in return for halting ICC probe