Mahmoud Abbas Says Cease-Fire Must Include Ending Israeli 'Invasions' at Temple Mount

Maintaining the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas requires potentially banning Jewish people from one of Islam's holiest sites, according to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

After 11 days of violence and rising concerns about a full-scale war breaking out, Hamas and Israel agreed to a cease-fire last week. But the fragile agreement did little to stop clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem, and Abbas warned the truce could be short-lived if changes are not made to operations on the Temple Mount.

Abbas has stressed the need for an end to "attacks" and "storming of extremist settlers" at the Al-Aqsa mosque during meetings with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. Palestinians often refer to Jewish visits to the site as a storming.

"The cease-fire must include an end to [Israeli] attacks and invasions" at Jerusalem's holy sites and in the West Bank, Abbas' office told The Times of Israel.

Safadi passed along a message from Jordan's King Abdullah to Abbas that expressed support for stopping "the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people," according to Abbas' office.

Citing the Islamic Waqf, which oversees the site, the Associated Press reported that Israeli police cleared Palestinians out of the mosque compound on Sunday and restricted entrance to Muslims under age 45. Israeli police have denied there was an age restriction, and Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman, said it was open for "regular visits."

abbas israel hamas ceasefire temple mount
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gives a joint statement with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Alex Brandon/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

It was the first time Jews were allowed to visit the site since March 4, according to the Waqf, and came after Israeli security forces used stun grenades and rubber bullets on a group gathered outside the mosque last Friday. An Israeli police spokesperson told CNN officers were responding to a riot where officers had stones thrown at them, but Palestinians view the officers' presence as a provocation that threatens the status quo.

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel captured the Temple Mount, which sits above the Western Wall, the holiest place for Jewish prayers. But the Waqf, which is overseen by Jordan, continues to maintain religious authority. Jews are allowed to visit as long as they adhere to certain restrictions, but they are banned from praying at the mosque.

On May 10, Israeli police clashed with Palestinians at the site. Senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh tweeted that the officers' "storming" of the mosque was a "crime committed by the occupation."

"We call on our entire nation to take to the streets and clash with the occupation," Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesperson for Palestinian militant group Hamas, told The Times of Israel. "Israel will pay a heavy price for its forcible takeover of Al-Aqsa."

Many blame the confrontations at the Al-Aqsa mosque for fueling the recent violence between Hamas and Israel. But Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, denied this had anything to do with the conflict. He noted Muslims' ability to pray at the mosque and said Israeli officers were "forced" to enter the Temple Mount after Hamas encouraged people to store weapons at the holy site.