Six people have been killed in the bloodiest spate of Israeli-Palestinian violence for years, following new Israeli security measures at Jerusalem’s holiest site.
Three Israelis were stabbed to death in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, hours after three Palestinians were killed.
The violence was prompted by Israel’s installation of metal detectors at entry points to the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the suspension of all official contact with Israel until it removed the metal detectors.
He gave no details, but current contact is largely limited to security cooperation.
“I declare the suspension of all contacts with the Israeli side on all levels until it cancels its measures at al Aqsa mosque and preserves the status quo,” Abbas said.
Tensions have been mounting for days with Palestinians hurling rocks and Israeli police using stun grenades after the detectors were placed outside the sacred venue, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount.
Israel decided to install the metal detectors at the entry point to the shrine in Jerusalem’s walled Old City on Sunday, after the killing of two Israeli policemen on July 14.
Despite international pressure to remove the metal detectors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet decided to keep them in place, saying they were needed to prevent arms being smuggled into the shrine.
In protest, thousands of worshippers gathered for Friday prayers at various entrances to the sacred compound.