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DM: Israel ready to expand 'civil measures' for Palestinians

Benny Gantz, Blue and White party leader attends a press conference after failing to form a goverment on November 20, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. [Amir Levy/Getty Images]
Israel's Defence Minister Benny Gantz in Tel Aviv on 20 November 2019 [Amir Levy/Getty Images]

Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, said Israel is ready to expand its "civil measures" for the Palestinians, Anadolu News Agency reports.

This came in a phone call Gantz made Tuesday evening with Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, to congratulate him on the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"Tonight, I spoke with Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, and I congratulated him and the Palestinian people on the month of Ramadan," Gantz said in a Twitter post.

The Israeli Minister said he told Abbas of Israel's readiness "to expand its civilian measures during and after Ramadan as long as security stability allows."

Gantz said Ramadan and the Jewish Passover holiday "should be a time of peace and tranquility," adding that Israel will "continue to work vigorously to prevent harm to civilians and the security forces."

On Tuesday, Israel announced what it called a "series of civil steps for the Palestinians" on the occasion of Ramadan amid familiar tensions in occupied East Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israelis.

READ: Israel responsible for attacks against Palestinians during Ramadan

Under these steps, Palestinian men aged 40-50 years old will be allowed to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform prayers, including the weekly Friday prayers, provided they obtain a valid permit from the Israeli army. Men over the age of 50 will not need a security clearance.

Palestinians say that the new steps tighten restrictions on their entry to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world's third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognised by the international community.

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