Israeli Army Ordered To Seal off West Bank for 48 Hours

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the army to seal off the West Bank for 48 hours and tightened security around the old city of Jerusalem, Israeli officials said Friday.

One Palestinian was injured in the old city after Israeli police restricted worshipers from entering the Al Aqsa mosque for Friday prayers, CNN reports.

The closure was enforced Thursday midnight amid reports on the possibility of fresh protests by Palestinians around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (al-Quds) after Friday prayers. The closure is to be lifted on Saturday night.

According to witnesses, Israeli police forces are increasing presence in al-Quds due to concerns that riots may break out in the holy city and spill over into the West Bank, Press TV reported.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday sought guarantees from Washington that it would pressure Israel to cancel its plan for 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, Palestinian media outlets reported.

U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell spoke with Abbas late Thursday and urged him not to walk away from indirect peace negotiations with Israel, a senior Palestinian official quoted in the reports said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said he believes indirect talks with the PA will continue as planned early next week despite the crisis with the U.S. over the plan for new housing in East Jerusalem and the protests by the Palestinian Authority and Arab world, reported.

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