Israel rejects observer plan after more stabbing attacks


Israel on Sunday rejected a proposal to send international observers to a flashpoint holy site in a bid to calm unrest after five more stabbing incidents defied a security crackdown.
Diplomatic moves to halt the more than two weeks of unrelenting violence gained steam.
In yet another sign of tensions, ultra-Orthodox Jews illegally visiting a West Bank holy site set ablaze last week were assaulted by Palestinians, while some were also arrested.
Clashes also broke out in the West Bank city of Hebron, where three attacks occurred on Saturday.
The unrest and stabbing attacks or attempts on Saturday came as the violence raised fears of a full-scale Palestinian uprising.
At the start of a Cabinet meeting Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected an idea from France that would see international observers sent to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Clashes at the compound between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in September preceded the current wave of violence.
Muslims fear Israel will seek to change rules governing the site, located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
The site is sacred to Muslims and Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount. Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there to avoid provoking tensions, and Netanyahu has said repeatedly he has no intention of changing the rules.
“Israel cannot accept the French draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council,” Netanyahu said.
“It doesn’t mention Palestinian incitement; it doesn’t mention Palestinian terrorism; and it calls for the internationalization of the Temple Mount.”
Checkpoints have been set up in Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem, where many of the attackers have come from, and some 300 soldiers on Sunday began reinforcing police.
Israel also on Sunday implemented a previously approved measure allowing security forces to search people whenever they feel necessary.
As fears have mounted, Tel Aviv city officials have barred cleaning and maintenance employees from schools during times when students are present, with parents concerned over possible attacks against children.
Arab Israelis account for the majority of such employees, public radio reported.
Most of the attackers have been young Palestinians wielding knives and believed to be acting on their own.
Including alleged assailants, 41 Palestinians have been killed since the upsurge in violence began on Oct. 1, while seven Israelis have died.
Violent protests have also erupted in east Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel on Sunday closed the only civilian crossing from Gaza into Israel, except for humanitarian cases, while damage was being repaired.
On Saturday, four Palestinians were shot dead and a fifth was wounded in attacks on Israelis in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
All of the incidents involved a Palestinian assailant attempting to stab an Israeli.
Overnight, a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews attempting to illegally visit a holy site in the West Bank set ablaze last week were assaulted by Palestinians while five were also arrested, Israeli authorities said.
Palestinians torched the site holy to Jews on Friday in an incident that threatened to further inflame tensions.


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