Abbas warns Israel not to turn the Middle East’s decades-long conflict into a religious one

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is warning Israel not to turn the Middle East’s decades-long conflict into a religious one.

In a speech Wednesday to the U.N. General Assembly, the Palestinian leader warned Israel not to target the site sacred to both Muslims and Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem with any unilateral decisions, saying that this would be like “playing with fire.”

The site has been at the center of recent tensions after Israel installed, then removed, metal detectors following the shooting of two Israeli police. Muslims administer the compound, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, while Jews can visit, but not pray there.

Abbas said Israel is jeopardizing the two-state solution by continuing to expand its settlements on Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, adding that there is no physical space anymore for a Palestinian state.
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