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Groton Daily Independent
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 ~ Vol. 25 - No. 025 ~ 21 of 38
Israel had erected metal detectors at the gates to the Muslim-administered site last week, after Arab gunmen killed two Israeli police guards there.
The move incensed the Muslim world, amid allegations that Israel was trying to expand control over the site under the guise of security — a claim Israel denies.
The installation of the metal detectors set off widespread protests and deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence over the past week.
Large crowds of Muslim worshippers prayed outside the shrine in protest every day, refusing to pass through the metal detectors.
Israel has denied it has a hidden agenda, portraying the metal detectors as a needed means to prevent attacks.
However, the Israeli government has come under growing diplomatic pressure in recent days to recon- sider the decision. It also faced growing domestic criticism that it had acted hastily, without weighing the repercussions of installing new devices at the volatile site.
The diplomatic crisis with Jordan over the embassy shooting lent more urgency to  nding a solution.
On Monday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II spoke by phone.
Following the conversation, the Israeli Embassy staff, including the security guard who had killed two Jordanians after being attacked by one with a screwdriver, returned to Israel from their base in Jordan.
Jordan initially said the guard could not leave without an investigation, while Israel said he had diplomatic immunity.
Israel’s security Cabinet, meanwhile, announced it would replace the metal detectors with “advanced technologies,” reportedly cameras that can detect hidden objects.
The Cabinet said police would increase the deployment of forces until the new measures are in place. The statement said the government would budget 100 million shekels ($28 million) to implement the security plan over a period of “up to six months.”
Before dawn Tuesday, workers were seen dismantling one of the devices at the Old City’s Lion’s Gate, a recent  ashpoint and a scene of nightly mass prayer protests by Muslim worshippers.
President Donald Trump’s Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt, met with Netanyahu before the decision was announced, a sign of the  rst direct involvement of the U.S. administration since the crisis began. Greenblatt then headed to Jordan.
It was not clear if the compromise would be accepted by Muslim and Palestinian leaders who had de- manded a return to the security arrangements that were in place before the mid-July shooting attack.
Mahmoud Aloul, a senior of cial in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, said Tuesday that any changes to the previous arrangements are unacceptable.
“Israel is an occupying power and needs to take its hands from our holy sites,” he told the Voice of Palestine radio station.
It was not clear if Aloul expressed the views of Abbas. The Palestinian president had announced last week that he was suspending all ties with Israel, including security coordination between his forces and Israeli troops in the West Bank, until the metal detectors are removed.
As custodian, Jordan has the  nal say over Muslim policies at the shrine, but also needs to consider public opinion, including among Palestinians in the Holy Land.
In his phone call with Netanyahu, Jordan’s king stressed the need to “remove the measures taken by the Israeli side since the recent crisis broke out” and to agree on steps that would prevent another escalation in the future, Jordan’s state news agency Petra said.
Israel captured the Old City compound, along with other territories sought for a Palestinian state, in the 1967 war. Under arrangements put in place then, Muslims administer the site and Jews can visit, but not pray there.
Jordan’s ruling Hashemite dynasty draws much of its legitimacy from its role as protector of the holy site. However, it also maintains strategic, if discreet, security ties with Israel — a relationship that has survived

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