Elana Kirsh
The Jerusalem Post
October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana expressed concern Wednesday over "recent clashes in east Jerusalem."

In a statement, he called for restraint, saying, "I have been closely following the situation around the Al Aksa mosque in recent days. I would like to urge all parties to refrain from provocative actions that could further inflame tensions or lead to violence."

"Everyone must take action to avoid escalation," he added.

Earlier Wednesday, a delegation from the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, as well as Arab MKs, toured Jerusalem's Aksa mosque. Jerusalem police were informed of the visit in advance.

The leaders reiterated previous claims of Israeli archeological excavations under the Temple Mount, and reportedly promised to "keep the peace," as long as Muslims are not prevented from entering holy sites during Friday prayers.

This latest upswing in violence began on Sunday morning when some 150 Muslims threw rocks and bottles at police after being denied entry to the Temple Mount compound for morning prayers at the Aksa Mosque.

Security forces had decided to close off the compound after calls for Muslim men to come and "defend the mount" had circulated throughout east Jerusalem and Arab villages in northern Israel over the weekend.

In addition, a police patrol on the Temple Mount early Sunday morning discovered wheelbarrows filled with rocks, which led security forces to believe that riots had been planned in advance of Sunday's prayers.


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