Violence erupts across East Jerusalem

George Mitchell postpones visit as Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers

Fifteen policemen and at least 40 Palestinians were injured yesterday in clashes between stone-throwing protesters and armed Israeli security forces in Arab East Jerusalem.

The violence, the most widespread in the city for many months, came as US presidential envoy George Mitchell put off a planned visit to the city because of the continuing diplomatic deadlock.

With tension remaining high in the wake of the announcement – condemned by the US – of plans to expand an East Jerusalem settlement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton moved to calm the diplomatic row with Israel, while saying there were "intense talks" about confidence steps it needed to take to re-open indirect talks with the Palestinians.

But hundreds of protesting Palestinians faced tear gas and rubber bullets from Israeli police in a series of districts of East Jerusalem, the sector occupied by Israel after the 1967 Six Day War and which Palestinians want as the capital of a future state.

Police said 60 Palestinians were arrested in rioting, which had been encouraged by Hamas's call for a "day of rage" in protest at Monday's re-dedication of a synagogue in the Old City's Jewish Quarter. Hamas claimed that this move endangers the Al Aqsa Mosque 400m away. Police said the injured policemen were mainly hit by stones, but one was shot in the hand last night.

Mrs Clinton used more emollient language than she had on Friday – when she described as "insulting" the announcement of plans to build 1,600 new housing units in an ultra-orthodox settlement during US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit to the region last week.

Emphasising Washington's "absolute commitment" to Israel's security and the "close, unshakeable bond" between the two countries, she said yesterday that while the US had expressed its "dismay and disappointment", it was now time to "move forward". She added: "I think we'll see what the next days hold, and we're looking forward to Senator Mitchell returning to the region and beginning the proximity talks."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later welcomed Mrs Clinton's "warm words" but insisted that Israel "has proven over the last year that it is committed to peace, both in words and actions". Mrs Clinton declined to say when Mr Mitchell would travel. The State Department on Monday indicated that Washington was still awaiting a response to a series of US demands of Israel – widely believed to include the scrapping of a plan for the expansion of the Ramat Shlomo ultra-orthodox settlement which triggered the row.

Mrs Clinton added: "We are engaged in very active consultations with the Israelis over steps that we think would demonstrate the requisite commitment to the process." US diplomats were also in touch with officials in the moderate-led Palestinian Authority in Ramallah over the last 36 hours, to urge them to discourage violent protests in Jerusalem.

Israeli police turned back buses carrying Israeli Arabs travelling towards Jerusalem yesterday morning. A closure to prevent Palestinians reaching the City, and a bar on men under 50 reaching Al Aqsa Mosque, has also been in force. The latter measure ensured that the holy sites were largely quiet, with most of the violence occurring in East Jerusalem districts outside the Old City. With 3,000 police deployed across the city yesterday, the force was ordered to remain on high alert in the Old City and elsewhere across east Jerusalem.

Israel's Police Commissioner, Dud Cohen, said after touring the Old City, "We've seen signs of riots, but this is no third intifada." But Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, likened Israel's political handling of Jerusalem to "pouring oil onto the fire". And Arab Knesset member Haneen Zoubi said it provided "a strong motive for the launch of the third intifada."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss