Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that the tense situation between Israelis and Palestinians could deteriorate further as he sought European Union's help to deescalate the ongoing crisis. "The situation in Palestine is extremely serious and grave and may even deteriorate. This is my fear," Abbas said in Brussels on Monday. "The main reason is the feeling of disappointment [among] the young generation," who feel that there is "no hope", he added. Abbas met with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels Monday evening to discuss ways to deescalate the violence. Three Palestinians were shot dead in the West Bank on Monday as efforts to reduce tensions over Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound by installing cameras at the site failed. Abbas reiterated his criticism of the Israeli government over what he called its "non-respect" for the rules at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. "What we are looking for...is to come back and stick and commit to this status quo [over holy sites] that unfortunately has been neglected and ignored by the Israeli government," he said.
The European Commission is the biggest provider of financial aid to the Palestinians, providing more than $6.19 billion to Abbas' Palestinian Authority since 1994. Mogherini, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday, admitted there was "a certain degree of frustration" in Europe over the peace process, which collapsed in April 2014 amid bitter recriminations.
The tensions remain high between Israelis and Palestinians as daily attacks on each side continue. In order to decrease the tension State Secretary of the U.S. John Kerry last week supported Jordan's offer to decorate Al-Aqsa compound with constant video monitoring. Israeli and Jordanian officials said Tuesday that new surveillance cameras should be installed within days at the walled Jerusalem shrine at the epicenter of Israeli-Palestinian violence, with the goal of streaming the footage live on the Internet for maximum transparency. Under the compromise brokered by Kerry, video cameras are to be installed inside the 37-acre (15-hectare) walled platform to help defuse tensions. Israeli officials confirmed the plan, and in a statement, Netanyahu's office said it hopes to start the process "as soon as possible." Israel has welcomed the plan, saying the cameras will prove it is doing nothing wrong and expose violent activities by Palestinian protesters.
The Palestinians have given the plan a cool reception, saying Israel will use the cameras to arrest people and complaining that deeper issues have been ignored. The Palestinians say the violence is the result of years of Israeli military occupation and a lack of hope for gaining independence after years of failed peace efforts. At a Jerusalem news conference, Abdel Azeem Salhab, chairman of the Waqf council, accused Israel of trying to "Judaize" the mosque. "Israel wants cameras for its own purposes and this will not happen," he said.
The compound is revered by both Muslims and Jews and a lightning rod for the clashing national narratives of Israelis and Palestinians. Jordan, which controlled the site before Israel captured it in the 1967 Mideast war, serves as the custodian of the Muslim-administered site. Under decades-old arrangements, Jews are allowed to visit, but not to pray at the shrine. However, the number of Jewish visitors has doubled in the past five years, accompanied by statements from Jewish groups and several leading Israeli politicians demanding prayers at the site. Such statements have fueled Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to expand its presence at the shrine. Israel adamantly denies such allegations, saying they amount to incitement to violence. In mid-September, tensions started to soar, coinciding with an increase in the number of Jewish visitors during a period of Jewish holidays. In all, 11 Israelis have been killed, mostly in stabbings, while 52 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.
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