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Abbas cuts trip to China short amid rising tensions around Al-Aqsa Mosque

July 19, 2017 10:48 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2017 10:48 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech in Beijing on Wednesday that he is open to trilateral talks between Israel, Palestine, and China. Meanwhile, Abbas decided to cut his trip short and return to the occupied West Bank amid rising tensions around Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. 

During a speech at the Chinese Academy in Beijing, Abbas said that Chinese officials have expressed openness to hold talks between Palestine and Israel later this year in order to help resolve the decades-old conflict in the region. 

Meanwhile, Abbas stressed the importance of “new ideas” suggested by Chinese President Xi Jinping, and reiterated the importance of solving the conflict, which would “lead to peace and security in the region.” 

“Israel must end the occupation,” Abbas said. “And release all Palestinians from Israeli prisons in the start of any peace agreements.” 

He also reiterated his objections to “any type of terrorism regardless of the source.” 

Abbas confirmed in his speech that the Chinese government has continued to support the two-state solution which guarantees that East Jerusalem becomes the capital of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. 

Meanwhile, Abbas also announced Wednesday that he was cutting his trip short after arriving in Beijing on Monday owing to rising tensions in East Jerusalem after Israeli authorities installed metal detectors and security cameras at the gates of the holy compound. 

Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh announced from Beijing that Abbas is planning to convene an “urgent meeting” among Palestinian leaders to discuss events at Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

According to Rudeineh, Abbas has also been in touch with Arab and world leaders to “prevent further escalations in the situation.” 

Following a deadly shoot-out at the compound on Friday, Israeli forces closed Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, to Muslim worshippers for more than two days. It marked the first day Al-Aqsa was closed to Palestinians since 2014 and the first time in 50 years that the mosque was closed during Friday prayers. 

When they reopened the gates on Sunday, Palestinians found that Israeli authorities had installed metal detectors and security cameras at the opened gates. 

Palestinian leaders have called on Palestinians to refuse to pass through the gates, saying that their installment threaten the status-quo at the site, which remains under Jordanian control and prohibits non-Muslim worship. 

As a result, thousands of Palestinians have performed prayers outside of the holy site in protest of the new measures, while clashes have continued to erupt as Israeli forces have assaulted and attempted to suppress the civil disobedience actions. 

Meanwhile, Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip organized solidarity actions on Wednesday in support of the Palestinian nonviolent resistance in Jerusalem and against Israeli security measures at Al-Aqsa. 
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