Clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians which killed 36 people in four days were sparked by an "act of provocation," European Union special envoy to the Middle East Miguel Angel Moratinos said Sunday.
"I am greatly dismayed when I see all the efforts at peacemaking wiped out by an act of provocation which led to a spiral of violence in the (Palestinian) territories," Moratinos told AFP, referring to a controversial visit Thursday by right wing Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem.
The site, holy to both Muslims and Jews, lies at the heart of the dispute over the future of Jerusalem which scuppered July's Camp David summit and left peace talks frozen.
Sharon's visit was perceived by the Palestinians as a provocation, and sparked off violent demonstrations and clashes.
Moratinos said a member of his team responsible for security issues had gone to Israel and the Palestinian territories Sunday to hold "contacts with officials on both sides in an attempt to put an end to the violence."
He added that he himself would travel there Monday and meet acting Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat -- NICOSIA (AFP)
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