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Abbas backs call for Palestinians to return to Al-Aqsa mosque

JERUSALEM: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas backed calls for worshippers to return to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque on Thursday after Israeli authorities removed controversial new security measures.

“The prayers will happen, God willing, inside the Al-Aqsa mosque,” Abbas told a press conference, moments after Muslim authorities announced an end to a nearly two-week boycott of the site over new Israeli metal detectors, cameras and railings installed after a July 14 attack killed two policemen.

The final railings and scaffolding where cameras were previously mounted were removed early on Thursday from the entrance to the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, two days after the metal detectors were dismantled.

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The compound encompasses the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.

The Palestinian leadership suspended security coordination with Israel over the new measures. Abbas said Thursday it had not yet taken a decision on whether to renew it.

“For now we will talk only about the afternoon prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque and afterwards have a meeting to decide or study the rest,” he said.

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