mahmoud abbas

Abbas congratulates North Korea’s Kim amid nuclear tensions

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday congratulated North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un on the occasion of his country’s “Liberation day,” amid a high-stakes nuclear standoff between Pyongyang and Washington.

“The Korean people offered the most precious sacrifices for their freedom and dignity,” Abbas said in a telegram to Kim, the PA’s official news outlet, Wafa, reported.

The US and Korea have locked horns over the hermit nation’s nuclear and missile programs, with US President Donald Trump also ratcheting up the rhetoric and promising Pyongyang “fire and fury.”

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett slammed Abbas for his comments, saying it showed the Palestinians were bereft of any moral compass.

“First Hitler, then S. Hussein, now Kim Jong-un. If you want to take a moral stand, check who the Palestinians support and do the opposite,” Bennett tweeted.

First Hitler, then S. Hussein, now Kim Jong-un.
If you want to take a moral stand, check who the Palestinians support and do the opposite.

Abbas expressed his appreciation for North Korea’s “firm solidarity in support of the rights [of the Palestinian] people and its just struggle to end the occupation and establish our independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

The PA president also expressed wishes for Kim’s “health and happiness,” for North Korean “prosperity” and for the “historic relationship between Palestine and North Korea to further develop.”

This image made from video of an Aug. 14, 2017, still image broadcast in a news bulletin on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, by North Korea's KRT shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un receiving a briefing in Pyongyang.(KRT via AP Video)

In a separate statement, Abbas congratulated the leader of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, for his nation’s own Liberation Day.

He wished prosperity for the South Koreans and a development of ties with the Palestinians.

Earlier Tuesday, Kim signaled he would not launch missiles near Guam, amid sky-high friction with the US.

During an inspection of the North Korean army’s Strategic Forces, which handles the missile program, Kim praised the military for drawing up a “close and careful plan” and said he would watch the “foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” a little more before deciding whether to order the missile test, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency says.

Kim said North Korea would conduct the launches if the “Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity,” and that the United States should “think reasonably and judge properly” to avoid shaming itself, the news agency said.

While Palestinian relations with Pyongyang have been minimal, at least at the public level, the Hamas terror group in Gaza has praised North Korea for its harsh rhetoric against Israel. In April, Hamas thanked Kim for his support of the Palestinian cause, after the latter slammed Israel for insulting its leadership.

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PA chief Abbas issues decree curbing free speech online

RAMALLAH (AP) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has clamped down on social media and news websites — the main outlets for debate and dissent in the West Bank — with a vaguely worded decree that critics say allows his government to jail anyone on charges of harming “national unity” or the “social fabric.”

Rights activists say the edict, issued without prior public debate last month, is perhaps the most significant step yet by Abbas’s government to restrict freedom of expression in the autonomous Palestinian enclaves of the West Bank.

A Palestinian prosecutor denied the decree is being used to stifle dissent and insisted that a new law on electronic crimes was needed to close legal loopholes that in the past allowed offenders, such as hackers, to go unpunished.

However, the government has blocked 30 websites in the past month, according to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, or Mada.

Mohammad Dahlan in 2006 (Michal Fattal/Flash90)

Most of the sites were affiliated with Abbas’s two main rivals — a former aide-turned-foe, Mohammed Dahlan, and the Islamist Hamas, Mada said. A few of the blocked sites had supported the extremist Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Five journalists working for news outlets linked to Hamas were detained this week and charged with violating the new law, according to the lawyer of one of those arrested and an official in the association of Palestinian journalists.

Separately, four other journalists were called for questioning about social media posts critical of government policy.

One of those summoned, photo journalist Fadi Arouri, who works for the Chinese news agency Xinhua, said he was shown his Facebook posts and was told that the authorities are concerned “these expressions could lead to disorder in society.”

Ammar Dweik, head of the government-appointed Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, said the new law is “one of the worst” since the Palestinian autonomy government was established in 1994.

It’s “a big setback to the freedoms in the West Bank,” he said, citing the vague definition of the purported crimes, the wide authority given to the security forces, the large-scale blocking of news websites and the harsh punishments.

Rights groups have repeatedly accused Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, of restricting freedoms and engaging in human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrests of political opponents, mistreatment in detention and cracking down on peaceful protests.

The new decree stipulates prison terms ranging from one year to life for those who use digital means for a range of all-encompassing offenses. The list includes endangering the safety of the state or public order as well as harming national unity or social peace.

Abbas, 82, issued the decree at a time when he is facing new domestic challenges to his rule.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and Mohammad Dahlan, left, leave a news conference in Egypt, in February 2007. (AP/Amr Nabil)

Dahlan and Hamas have overcome their old rivalry to team up against Abbas with an emerging power-sharing deal in Gaza, the territory Abbas’s Fatah movement lost to Hamas in 2007.

Polls routinely show that two-thirds of Palestinians want Abbas to resign. He was elected to five years in 2005, but stayed on, arguing that political disagreement with Hamas prevented new elections. With parliament paralyzed as a result of the political split, Abbas has ruled by decree.

Abbas also failed to deliver on his central promise of setting up a Palestinian state in talks with Israel.

Gaps widened since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to power in 2009, and an early Trump administration promise to revive long-dormant negotiations appears to have fizzled.

Officials in Abbas’s office declined to comment on the new decree or on long-standing complaints that Abbas and his government restrict freedoms in the West Bank. The officials said it was up to law enforcement and the Cabinet to comment.

A government spokesman also declined comment, referring questions to the justice minister, who did not respond to phone messages.

Ibrahim Hamodeh, a prosecutor in the attorney general’s office, said the decree was needed to go after those committing electronic crimes, such as hackers and those engaged in online libel.

“There is nothing about (restricting) freedom of expression in the new law,” Hamodeh told The Associated Press.

“The law criminalizes distortion, defamation, slandering,” he said. “One can criticize the president and his policy but one cannot accuse the president or anyone else of treason or make fun of him in an image, or something like that.”

Critics said the vague, fuzzy terms in the decree are problematic.

It enables the government to jail anyone for any reason, said Ghazi Bani Odeh, a researcher at Mada.

“It opens the door wide to more violations of freedom of expression,” he said.

In the past, other laws that prohibit “insulting the president” or “insulting religion” have been used selectively to prosecute Palestinians for social media posts.

Emad al-Masri, a mid-level manager in the Palestinian Health Ministry in the city of Ramallah, was among the first to be prosecuted under the new law.

He said he was detained in July, after being sued by two ministry officials for allegedly slanderous Facebook posts.

The prosecutor said the pair eventually dropped their charges and the judge reduced the sentence from two years to three months, or a fine. Al-Masri ended up paying about $130.

Al-Masri, 45, said he believes he was targeted for his critical comments recently about Abbas’s new policy of tightening financial pressure on Gaza to try to force the coastal strip’s Hamas rulers to cede ground.

“I think they meant to intimidate me, to silence me,” said al-Masri, an activist in Fatah. His posts accused Abbas of harming ordinary Gazans with his tough policies against Hamas.

The Palestinian journalists’ association in the West Bank, though dominated by Fatah, said it would push back against the decree.

An electronic crimes law is needed, but the association is concerned about articles that touch on freedom of expression and freedom of reporting, said Mohammed Laham, an official in the group. He said the association is working with the Independent Commission for Human Rights to offer alternatives to some of the articles.

Shahwan Jabareen, director of the veteran rights group al-Haq, expressed concern about what he said is a continued slide toward authoritarianism.

“The Palestinian security services intervene in everything,” he said. They have “become the masters of the land.”

Abbas vows to keep up financial pressure on Hamas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pledged Saturday to keep cutting support payments for Hamas-ruled Gaza despite what he said was US criticism of such tactics.

“While there is a severe electricity crisis in Gaza, Hamas provides light for its underground tunnels and the homes of its officials around the clock,” Abbas told a group of prominent visitors from East Jerusalem at his Ramallah headquarters.

Abbas’s government in the West Bank began earlier this year to scale back electricity payments and other financial support to force Hamas to cede ground in Gaza. Such cuts have exacerbated blackouts.

The Islamic terror group seized the territory in 2007 after defeating forces from Abbas’s Fatah faction. Reconciliation attempts failed.

Abbas told the gathering that the PA would “continue the cuts in Gaza, gradually, unless Hamas accepts the requirements of the reconciliation.”

He added that US officials had told him he shouldn’t cut electricity, and said that those opposed to pressuring Hamas “don’t want to see an independent state” — presumably because a continued political split precludes independence.

His defiant tone toward Washington comes amid mounting criticismamong Palestinian officials, who say US President Donald Trump and his envoys to the region having taking Israeli positions and stymying the possibility for meaningful peace talks.

On Tuesday, Abbas held a rare meeting in Ramallah with a delegation from Hamas over possible reconciliation between the rival factions.

The meeting, held at the PA’s headquarters in Ramallah, came amid reports that lightning talks aimed at restoring PA control in Gaza and getting the PA to lift sanctions against Hamas are underway. The talks were initiated by Abbas, according to the London-based pan-Arab daily Rai al-Youm.

File: Still from an August 2015 Hamas video purporting to show a Gaza tunnel dug under the Israeli border. (Ynet screenshot)

The Hamas delegation was headed by former Palestinian education minister Nasser al-Din al-Shaer, and included Hamas lawmakers — Mahmoud Al-Ramahi, Mohammad Totah, Ayman Daraghmeh and Samir Abu Eisha.

According to a report of the meeting in the official PA news outlet Wafa, the sides “reviewed the general situation, ways of strengthening unity, and ending division.”

In addition to power cuts in Gaza throughout most of the day, recent months have seen a severe shortage of medicine and medical equipment in the enclave, a rights watchdog said in June, describing a worsening humanitarian situation.

A deal to truck in fuel from Egypt to keep a power plant running was brokered by Mohammed Dahlan, a former Fatah strongman, seen as a top rival to Abbas.

The PA president, who opposes what he sees as Hamas’s shadow government in Gaza, has said privately that he is tired of being Hamas’s “ATM machine” and that if Hamas wants PA money it must cede power to the PA in the Strip, according to Rai al-Youm.

The new framework reportedly being discussed between the two sides would enable the PA to restore electricity supplies and allow Gazan banks to trade in foreign currency again.

But in return, Hamas must publicly renege on its agreement with Dahlan, and dismantle its governing structures in Gaza, which, according to the PA, contravene previous agreements between the group and the PA, the report said.

Abbas holds rare reconciliation talks with Hamas in Ramallah

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday held a rare meeting in Ramallah with a delegation from rival Hamas over possible reconciliation between the battling Palestinian factions.

The meeting, held at the PA’s headquarters in Ramallah, came amid reports that lightning talks aimed at restoring PA control in Gaza and getting the PA to lift sanctions against Hamas in the Strip are underway. The talks were initiated by Abbas, according to London-based pan-Arabic daily Rai al-Youm.

The Hamas delegation was headed by former Palestinian education minister Nasser al-Din al-Shaer, and included Hamas lawmakers, Mahmoud Al-Ramahi, Mohammad Totah, Ayman Daraghmeh and Samir Abu Eisha.

According to a report of the meeting in the official PA news outlet Wafa, the sides “reviewed the general situation, ways of strengthening unity, and ending division.”

Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group, wrested control of Gaza from Abbas’s PA in a bloody coup in 2007. Years of reconciliation efforts have so far yielded nothing.

Khaled Mashaal, former political leader of Hamas (left), meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo, Egypt, December 21, 2011. (photo credit: AP)

The Hamas delegation, according to the report, also congratulated Abbas for “defending the Al-Aqsa Mosque and preserving the historical and legal status quo of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Abbas’s Fatah organization found rare agreement with Hamas last month when both factions called for violent protests against Israeli security measures at entrances to the Temple Mount.

The metal detectors, cameras and other measures were installed following the killing of two policemen at the site by three Arab Israelis who used weapons smuggled into the compound on July 14.

Following two weeks of protests, Israel eventually acceded to the Palestinian demands and removed all of the new security measures.

A palestinian family eats dinner by candlelight at their makeshift home in the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, during a power outage June 11, 2017. (AFP/SAID KHATIB)

Earlier this year, the PA cut its payments for Israeli-supplied electricity the Strip by 35%, and slashed salaries for government personnel in Gaza.

The feud between the two Palestinian factions — Fatah, which controls the PA in the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules Gaza — also brought about a severe shortage of medicine and medical equipment in the enclave, a rights watchdog said in June, describing a worsening humanitarian situation.

A deal to truck in fuel from Egypt to keep a power plant running was brokered by Mohammed Dahlan, a former Fatah strongman, seen as a top rival to Abbas.

Abbas, who opposes what he sees as Hamas’s shadow government in Gaza, has said privately that he is tired of being Hamas’s “ATM machine” and that if Hamas wants PA money it must cede power to the PA in the Strip, according to Rai al-Youm.

The new framework reportedly being discussed between the two sides would enable the PA to restore electricity supplies and allow Gazan banks to trade in foreign currency again, according to the daily.

But in return, Hamas must publicly renege on its agreement with Dahlan, and dismantle its governing structures in Gaza, which, according to the PA, contravene previous agreements between the group and the PA.

Abbas initiates talks to restore PA control of Gaza, end sanctions on Hamas

Lightning talks aimed at getting the Palestinian Authority to lift sanctions against Hamas in Gaza are underway, according to Arabic-language media sources.

The negotiations are reportedly taking place within a new framework for reconciliation initiated by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Earlier this year, the PA — which rules in the West Bank — stopped paying Israel to supply the Strip with electricity, and slashed salaries for government personnel in Gaza.

The feud between the two Palestinian factions — Fatah, which controls the PA; and Hamas, which rules Gaza — also brought about a severe shortage of medicine and medical equipment in the enclave, a rights watchdog said in June, describing a worsening humanitarian situation.

Abbas, who opposes what he sees as Hamas’s shadow government in Gaza, has said privately that he is tired of being Hamas’s “ATM machine” and that if Hamas wants PA money it must cede power to the PA in the Strip.

Palestinian children at home reading books by candle light due to electricity shortages in Gaza City, June 13, 2017. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

The new framework will reportedly enable the PA to restore electricity supplies and allow Gazan banks to trade in foreign currency again.

But in return, Hamas must publicly renege on its agreement with Abbas’s Fatah rival Mohammad Dahlan, and dismantle its governing structures in Gaza, which, according to the PA, contravenes previous agreements between the group and the PA.

Abbas suffering from exhaustion, say doctors after hospital visit

RAMALLAH — Medical doctors and Palestinian officials say 82-year-old Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is suffering from exhaustion, leading him to undergo medical checks at a West Bank hospital over the weekend.

Hospital officials initially only said that Abbas underwent routine exams and that the results were good.

However, doctors and Palestinian officials said Sunday that Abbas was exhausted. One physician said that Abbas suffered from an inflammation of the stomach, aggravated by stress.

All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Abbas’s health with the media.

Abbas was admitted on Saturday to a hospital in Ramallah, for what his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said was a routine checkup.

Abu Rudeineh told the official Wafa news agency that Abbas was undergoing physical tests at Istishari Hospital and would be released later that afternoon.

The visit came after two weeks of sharp tensions with Israel amid Palestinian protests over security measures at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

The PA president, who is a heavy smoker and is overweight, was treated several years ago for prostate cancer, and has also had a stent inserted in his heart to treat artery blockage.

In October, he underwent an emergency cardiac catheterization suffering exhaustion and chest pains.

The Haaretz newspaper reported Saturday that Israeli and Palestinian officials believe the health of the Palestinian leader is deteriorating, citing unnamed sources.

An unnamed Palestinian official told the Ynet news site that Saturday’s checkup was originally scheduled at a hospital in Jordan, but Abbas opted to go for treatment in Ramallah to avoid having to coordinate security for his departure from the West Bank with Israel.

Abbas’s latest checkups revived the debate over who will succeed him.

In power since 2005, he has refused to groom a successor. In the current disarray in Palestinian political institutions, there is no clear path toward choosing one.

Jordan king calls Abbas to urge calm after PA chief approves mass protests

Jordan’s King Abdullah II urged Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to work to calm spiraling tensions Wednesday, hours after Palestinian factions, backed by Abbas, called for violent demonstrations Friday over the Temple Mount.

In a phone call, the two leaders “stressed the importance of continuing coordination to bring the situation back to what it was before the outbreak of the crisis and ensure that the historical and legal status in the Holy Mosque is respected,” according to a statement carried by the Jordan’s Petra news agency.

The official Palestinian Wafa news agency said the two “agreed to unify efforts and maintain consultations.”

Earlier Wednesday, Abbas approved plans by the leaders of the Fatah Tanzim militia to organize mass demonstrations on Friday and in the days after. Meetings on Wednesday took place between representatives of various Palestinian factions at the office of Fatah deputy chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul. Jabal al-Mheissen, responsible for the Tanzim on the Fatah central committee, and former Palestinian intelligence chief Tawfik Tirawi were at the meetings, along with the heads of Fatah’s regional branches in the West Bank. Abbas, who was not present, approved the holding of the meetings, their content, and the decisions that were taken.

The Tanzim, an armed militia loosely affiliated with Fatah, was a key player in violent demonstrations at the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Its leader then was Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in jail for orchestrating deadly terrorism during the Second Intifada.

Jordan, which acts as custodian of the Temple Mount and funds the Waqf Islamic trust that administers site, has played a key role amid the ongoing crisis, sparked after Israel installed metal detectors following an attack at the Mount on July 14 in which three terrorists used guns smuggled into the sacred compound to shoot dead two Israeli policemen guarding outside.

Israel early Tuesday removed the metal detectors and cameras, but Muslim leaders have vowed to continue protesting until all security measures, including metal railings at the Gate of the Tribes entrance to the site, are removed.

Israel’s decision to remove the detectors early Tuesday morning came after a flurry of diplomatic contacts between Jerusalem, Amman and Washington, which also resulted in the return of an Israeli guard who shot and killed two Jordanians at the Israeli Embassy in Amman after being attacked with a screwdriver.

Speaking to Sky News Arabic on Wednesday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said there had been some progress in resolving the dispute over security measures “but the issue remains unresolved.”

“The popular stance on the ground says that there is no solution other than to remove all the measures and obstacles that have been put in place,” he added. “Jordan wants calm, but knows that in order for calm to prevail, the solution must be accepted by the people.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Abbas’s Fatah party called on Palestinians to take to the streets in Jerusalem and the West Bank in protest of the new security measures at the holy site, urging a “day of rage.”

Leaders of Fatah’s Tanzim militia met with Palestinian officials to take part in planning mass demonstrations this Friday.

Fatah’s youth movement issued a statement calling on Palestinians to remain “steadfast” in the defense of Jerusalem, and called for widespread participation in planned protests on Friday.

The “Shabiba” movement hailed Abbas’s decision to freeze all coordination with Israel, and promised “the expansion of the circle of confrontation with the occupation forces, isolation of settlements and the opening of all fronts, in villages, cities and refugee camps.”

The statement said the planned actions will target all settlements and roads leading to them.

Muslim worshipers participate in midday prayers in a parking lot near the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, refusing to enter the Temple Mount enclosure to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque inside, July 25, 2017. (Dov Lieber /Times of Israel)

Senior Fatah leaders called to conduct Friday prayers in public places — not in mosques, in protests at continued security measures at the Temple Mount — as well as general readiness and “escalating” protests “in all of Palestine as an [act of] victory for the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The Tanzim, an armed militia loosely affiliated with Fatah, was a key player in violent demonstrations at the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Its leader then was Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in jail for orchestrating deadly terrorism during the Second Intifada.

Hamas also joined calls to ramp up protests against Israel, calling for a “day of rage” in the West Bank on Friday, to “respond to the ongoing events in order to deter Israel from continuing its violations against our people and holy places,” according to Channel 2.

The groups made similar calls a week ago, leading to intense protests throughout the West Bank in which five Palestinians were killed and a terror attack by a Palestinian teen who stabbed to death three members of a family celebrating Shabbat in the settlement of Halamish Friday night.

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is revered as the site of the biblical temples. It is also the third-holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina, and is known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif. Under an arrangement in place since Israel captured Jerusalem’s Old City in the Six Day War in 1967 and extended its sovereignty there, non-Muslims are allowed access to the site but are forbidden to pray there.

Under this status quo, Israel is responsible for security at the site while the Jordanian trust — the Waqf — is in charge of administrative duties.

Avi Issacharoff, Dov Lieber and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Abbas warns security coordination with Israel will remain frozen

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday he will maintain a freeze on security coordination with Israel, despite the removal of metal detectors and security cameras from the entrances to the Temple Mount.

“Unless all measures go back to what they were before July 14, there will not be any changes,” Abbas said, referring to the date on which two Israeli police officers were shot dead just outside the compound. The terrorists, three Israeli Arabs, used guns that had been smuggled into the holy site by an accomplice.

“All the new Israeli measures on the ground from that date to the present are supposed to disappear,” he said. “Then things will return to normal in Jerusalem and we will continue our work after that in relation to bilateral relations between us and them.”

Following the shooting, Israel took the rare step of closing the Temple Mount to Muslim worshipers on a Friday — the holiest day of the week in Islam — in order to search for weapons, before reopening it two days later after installing metal detectors at the entrances to the compound. Previously detectors had only been placed at the Mughrabi Gate, the entrance for non-Muslim visitors.

Israeli security forces take down metal detectors at the Lions Gate, near a main entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, on July 24, 2017. (AFP/ Ahmad Gharabli)

Israel removed the metal detectors, along with cameras it installed in the area, early on Tuesday, but some new railings and barriers remain.

The installation of the detectors led to widespread anger among Muslims, who boycotted praying at the site in protest, and sparked a series of violent clashes with Israeli security forces, during which five Palestinians were killed.

The tensions surrounding the site were also cited by assailants in two recent terror attacks, including last week when a Palestinian stabbed to death three members of the Salomon family in the West Bank settlement of Halamish as they celebrated Shabbat.

Last week, Abbas announced that the PA would halt security coordination with Israel in protest of the metal detectors, describing the decision as difficult and warning that it would be Israelis who would suffer from the measure.

Abbas indicated that should Israel want security coordination to resume, it would have to reverse the recent security measures taken at the Temple Mount and halt all military incursions into Palestinian cities.

The security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians, in place for years despite near-frozen diplomatic ties, is seen as critical for both Israel and Abbas’s Fatah faction to keep a lid on violence in the West Bank, particularly from the Hamas terror group.

In January 2016, head of the PA’s security forces Majed Faraj said his forces, working with Israeli security services, managed to foil hundreds of attacks against Israelis in less than a year.

Despite the removal of the metal detectors and security cameras Tuesday, Muslim leaders advised worshipers to continue to stay away from the Temple Mount.

The Waqf Islamic trust, which administers the site, said a decision to continue the boycott was pending a review of the new Israeli security arrangements there.

Overnight Tuesday, Israel’s security cabinet said it would replace the metal detectors with “advanced technologies,” referring reportedly to cameras that can detect hidden objects, but said the process could take up to six months.

Muslim women pray outside Jerusalem's Old City on July 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

A Waqf official told The Times of Israel that it was continuing the boycott of the Temple Mount until all security measures added after the attack are removed.

The official noted that “the new high tech cameras” would not be accepted in place of the metal detectors.

Waqf officials pointed to the increased police presence as an example of security measures they demanded be removed along with the metal detectors.

Abbas confirms he halted security coordination, warns Israelis will ‘lose’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed on Monday his decision to halt security coordination with Israel in protest of the installation of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, describing the decision as difficult and warning that it would be Israelis who would suffer from the measure.

Abbas indicated that should Israel want security coordination to return, it would have to reverse the recent security measures taken at the Temple Mount and halt all military incursions into Palestinian cities.

“If we are patient, we will certainly get what we want: we will stop the installation of these metal detectors, stop these measures, and stop the incursions by the Israeli government in all cities of the West Bank,” Abbas said, according to a report in the official PA news site Wafa.

Last Sunday, Israel placed metal detectors at gates to the Temple Mount in response to a shooting attack by three Arab Israelis who killed two Israeli policemen just outside the compound on July 14 using guns they had smuggled into the holy site. Israel placed new security cameras at entrances to the compound on Sunday, but left the detectors in place.

The decision to place the metal detectors enraged Arab and Muslim officials, leading to days of increasing riots. On Friday Abbas announced he was suspending all contact with Israel, though he did not say at the time if it meant security cooperation too.

Muslim worshipers pray outside the Old City of Jerusalem's Lions Gate in protest of the placement of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount on July 17, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

“They don’t have a right to place the [metal detectors] at the gates to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, because sovereignty over the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is our right… So we took a decisive and firm stance, especially with regard to security coordination and all kinds of coordination between us and them,” Abbas said Sunday.

The Palestinian leader said the decision to halt security coordination was a hard one to make, but that it would be Israel that ultimately suffered for it.

“This decision we took to stop all kinds of coordination, whether security or otherwise, is not easy at all. But they (the Israelis) have to act and know that they are the ones who will inevitably lose, because we are doing a very important duty in protecting our security and theirs.”

Abbas seemed to be responding to comments made earlier on Sunday by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who said security coordination was a “Palestinian need first and foremost.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, center at the site of a terror attack in the settlement of Halamish, where three Israelis were murdered and one seriously injured by a Palestinian in a stabbing attack. July 22, 2017. (Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

The security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians, in place for years despite near-frozen diplomatic ties, is seen as critical for both Israel and Abbas’s Fatah faction to keep a lid on violence in the West Bank, particularly from the Hamas terror group.

In comments that were posted and later removed from the Wafa statement, Abbas accused Israel of relying on the PA for security, while not fulfilling its own requirements toward the Palestinians.

In January 2016, head of the PA’s security forces Majed Faraj said his forces, working with Israeli security services, managed to foil hundreds of attacks against Israelis in less than a year.

Four Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces since Friday over the Temple Mount metal detectors, and another was killed Saturday when a firebomb he was planning to throw at Israeli security forces exploded prematurely.

The sharp escalation in violence came a week after the two Israeli Border Police officers were killed by Arab-Israeli terrorists at the Temple Mount. In the wake of the attack, Israel closed the site for 48 hours as it searched for more weapons, and then installed metal detector gates at entrances to the compound.

On Friday night, three members of the Salomon family were stabbed to death in the Halamish settlement in the West Bank. The lethal terror attack unfolded when a 19-year-old Palestinian, Omar al-Abed, from a nearby village, burst into their home armed with a large knife and began stabbing the family members, who had gathered to celebrate the birth of a grandson.

Abed wrote on Facebook that he was carrying out the attack due to what he said was Israel’s “defilement” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on July 19, 2017, following a demonstration against new Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount. (AFP/Musa Al Shaer)

Muslim leaders say the metal detectors mark a change to the status quo at the site. Israel says the July 14 attack showed an imperative for reinforced security measures.

The Islamic Waqf, Jordanian custodians of the holy site, opposed the presence of the metal detectors and called on Palestinians and Israeli Arabs not to enter the site to pray there.

The Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews, as the site of the biblical temples. It is the third holiest site in Islam, where it is known as the Al-Aqsa compound or Noble Sanctuary, as the place from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Abbas announces immediate halt to ‘all contacts’ with Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced late Friday he was freezing all contacts with Israel.

I, on behalf of the Palestinian leadership, announce… a freeze of all contacts with the occupation state on all levels until Israel commits to canceling all the measures against our Palestinian people in general and Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque in particular,” Abbas said to applause from officials convened in PA headquarters in Ramallah.

He specifically castigated the deployment of metal detectors at the Temple Mount compound — placed there by Israel after a July 14 terror attack in which three Arab-Israelis shot dead two Israeli police officers there with guns they had smuggled into the holy site. Abbas called the measures “falsely presented as a security measure to take control over Al-Aqsa mosque.”

The dramatic statement from the PA president came after a day of riots around the Old City and the Jerusalem area. Three Palestinians were reported killed and some 200 others were wounded.

“The steps taken by Israel are leading to a religious confrontation and an evasion from a diplomatic process,” Abbas was quoted by Haaretz as saying.

File: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before holding direct peace talks at the State Department in Washington, DC, Sept. 2, 2010. (Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images via JTA)

Abbas called on all Palestinian employees to donate one day’s pay to supporting Jerusalem.

He said he had spoken with several heads of state, including from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, and asked them to intervene in the Temple Mount conflict.

The PA president said the Palestinian Authority would finance all costs of treating those wounded of Friday’s clashes. “We will spend $25 million supporting the Palestinians of Jerusalem,” he reportedly said.

He also called on Hamas to rally around the cause of the Temple Mount and reconcile with his own party, Fatah.

Palestinians run away from tear gas thrown by police officers outside Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, July 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The drastic escalation on Friday came a week after the two Israeli Border Police officers were killed by terrorists at the Temple Mount. In the wake of the attack, Israel closed the site for 48 hours as it searched for more weapons, and then installed metal detector gates at entrances to the compound.

The Islamic Waqf, Jordanian custodians of the holy site, opposed the presence of the metal detectors and called on Palestinians and Israeli Arabs not to enter the site to pray there.

After the attack last week, Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone and Abbas condemned the violence but also demanded the compound be immediately reopened.

Israel did not immediately respond to Abbas’s announcement on Friday night. It was not clear whether the PA president’s statement on ceasing “all contacts” included security coordination between the IDF and Palestinian Authority security forces. The PA’s security forces and the IDF have been working closely to stem terror attacks and other violence.

Although Israel and the PA have not held peace talks for three years, cooperation between the respective security forces in maintaining calm in the West Bank has been ongoing.

The Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews, as the site of the biblical temples. It is the third holiest site in Islam, where it is known as the Al-Aqsa compound or Noble Sanctuary, as the place from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war, but allowed the Jordanian-appointed Waqf to continue to administer its Muslim holy sites there under overall Israeli security control. Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray there.