US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that steps were agreed at talks in Amman to lower tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Giving few details, Kerry said on Wednesday that firm commitments had been made to maintain the status quo at holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem, after talks with Israeli Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
He said Israel and Jordan, which has custodial rights over Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem, had also agreed to take steps to “de-escalate the situation” in Jerusalem and to “restore confidence.”
“We are not going to lay out each practical step, it is more important they be done in a quiet and effective way,” Kerry said.
“It is clear to me that they are serious about working on the effort to create de-escalation and to take steps to instill confidence that the status quo will be upheld,” he said.
Age restrictions lifted
Shortly after the meeting, Israeli police announced that they will lift all age restrictions at Al-Aqsa Mosque from Friday.
Israel has regularly used age limits for Muslim men to restrict access to the site, which has been the scene of violent clashes in recent weeks.
Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from West Jerusalem, said the lifting of age restrictions was likely to be welcomed by the Palestinians but that they have many other grievances.
“Since this July, over 800 people have been arrested in East Jerusalem alone,” he said. “Close to 2,000 security personnel patrol that relatively confined part of the city on any given day.”
Much of the unrest in Jerusalem has been prompted by Israeli moves to step up settlement activity in the city’s eastern sector and by religious tensions at al-Aqsa compound, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews.
Palestinians have also been angered by a far-right Jewish campaign for prayer rights at al-Aqsa compound, although Israel insists it has no plans to change the decades-old status quo.
Simmering unrest in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem has in recent days spread to other parts of the occupied West Bank and Arab communities across Israel, raising fears of a new Palestinian uprising.
Thursday’s meeting came a day after Israel approved plans for 200 homes in a settlement in East Jerusalem, a move sharply criticised by the US.
Kerry also met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman in an effort to diffuse tensions. Al Jazeera