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Israeli president ‘expressed his hopes for peace and stability in the region’ in call with Palestinian leader

Herzog and Abbas talk for the first time since recent tensions in Jerusalem; Hamas banner hung over Temple Mount

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets Isaac Herzog, then-leader of Zionist Union party, in Ramallah, Aug. 18, 2015. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Israeli President Isaac Herzog held a series of calls with Arab leaders on Sunday to wish them a happy Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

Herzog spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates - Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, his office said in a statement. The Israeli president is expected to speak with additional regional leaders in the coming days.

Herzog and Abbas spoke for the first time since the recent outbreak of violent escalation between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in Jerusalem. During the call, Herzog “expressed his hopes for peace and stability in the region,” according to a statement from his office.

Both the UAE and Bahrain, Israel’s partners in Abraham Accords, issued condemnations of the Jewish state at the height of tensions over the Tempe Mount. 

Bahrain's foreign ministry called on Israeli authorities to “stop any provocative measures that would fuel violence, religious hatred, extremism and instability.” The leaders of the UAE, Jordan and Egypt called on Israel to “cease all measures that undermine peace prospects” and encouraged a “political horizon to return to serious and active negotiations to resolve the conflict on the basis of the two-state solution.”

The tense atmosphere and high alert continued on the Temple Mount on Monday morning, when a large Hamas banner was raised at the holy site for at least 20 minutes. It featured a greeting for Eid al-Fitr and a photo of a Hamas terrorist. As the banner was being hung, cheering and chanting can be heard in videos on social media. Some people also waived flags of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. 

The Israeli Police said that the banner was removed shortly after it was raised and that it was working to identify those involved in the provocation. The police also arrested a suspect who had set fire to an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount over the weekend, according to a statement issued on Monday. 

“We take seriously any violation of the symbols of government and the flag of the State of Israel or the support and encouragement of terrorist organizations,” noted the police.

“The police are constantly working against those criminals and outlaws in order to bring them to justice. Recently, police forces have arrested many suspects for conducting violent riots at the Temple Mount, including suspects in hoisting and holding Hamas flags. We will continue to act resolutely against lawbreakers and violators wherever they are,” continued the statement.

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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