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Fatah officials defy Abbas on Temple Mount crisis

With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ visiting China, senior Fatah leaders and activists moved to escalate the crisis on the Temple Mount.
Palestinians shout slogans during a protest over Israel's new security measures at the compound housing al-Aqsa mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RTX3C77B
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut a visit to China short and returned to Ramallah on July 19 to be on hand on July 21 for Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Palestinian Authority (PA) officials described the upcoming prayers as critical, given that Palestinians have been protesting and rioting since July 16 against Israel's introduction of metal detectors at the entrance to the Haram al-Sharif (or Temple Mount) following the July 14 terror attack there in which three Israeli Arab gunmen shot dead two Israeli police officers. Abbas has been aware that leading activists in Fatah, the movement he leads, have been inflaming popular sentiment and encouraging an escalation against Israel that could end in an uncontrollable bloodbath.

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