Other critics of the metal detectors and extra security at the Muslim holy site contend that the show of force by the Israeli government is about intimidation, not security.
The installation led to deadly clashes and uproar from Palestinians who saw it as an Israeli attempt to assert control over the site. It said they were necessary to prevent more attacks.
UPDATE: On Thursday, after Israel agreed to remove all newly installed security measures, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammad Hussein, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas both ended the boycott of prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque and called on Muslim worshippers to ascend the site as per normal.
While recognizing that Israelis and Palestinians fortunately “have not succumbed to the torrent of violent upheaval that has engulfed the region in recent years”, Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, nevertheless told an open debate in the UN Security Council that: “For almost a century, despite myriad peace efforts, one conflict has evaded solution”.
Why were the measures introduced?
Thousands of Palestinian Muslims have been praying in the streets of Jerusalem every evening – creating a new, surprisingly effective form of protest in their long conflict with Israel.
Birzeit University students marched toward the checkpoint, outside the Jewish settlement of Beit El, to protest the killing of fellow student Mohammad Ghanem who was shot and killed by Israeli police in Jerusalem on Friday.
What was the response to the latest changes?
The leaders met after Israel removed an overhead metal bridge and railings it recently installed outside the shrine after a Palestinian attack at the compound. “Things have to go back to how they were 10 days ago”.
“In general, and as I see in the Palestinian news and social media, Palestinians consider it as a triumph”, said the individual, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals for “collaborating” by speaking to an Israeli media outlet.
“This has nothing to do with metal detectors”.
But Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman says the security ties are more beneficial to the Palestinians anyway, and while Israel can live without them the Palestinians would suffer.
Israel removed an overhead metal bridge and railings at an entrance to the site, meeting a demand by Muslim protesters. Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and holiest site in Judaism.
A statement from the Waqf, the Islamic endowments organisation which administers the compound, said there should be “no entry into Al-Aqsa mosque until after an assessment bya Waqf technical committee and the return of the situation to how it was before the 14th of this month”.
The area, in East Jerusalem, has been under Israeli occupation since the 1967 Middle East war.