The Palestinian press accused the Israeli government Sunday of trying to provoke a religious war following three days of clashes that have left more than 20 Palestinians dead and hundreds injured.
"It is clear that the acts of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people and its claims in al-Aqsa will be the appropriate recipe for inflaming a religious war in the region," the best-selling Al-Quds newspaper said in an editorial.
"This war will go beyond the Middle East to reach countries and regions outside this area, threatening the world peace. Do Israelis comprehend these facts or do they prefer to ignore them and bury their heads in the sand as usual?" questioned the paper, which is close to Yasser Arafat's self-rule authority.
The violent clashes were sparked by a visit Thursday by right-wing Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest shrine in Islam, in east Jerusalem.
Sovereignty over the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is one of the central points of discord between Israel and the Palestinians in their stumbling efforts to strike a peace accord.
"The events in the past two days and the deaths of dozens of the Palestinian masses and injuries to hundreds will have serious ramifications in the Arab and Islamic worlds," Al-Quds said.
"These events will have serious ramifications on the peace process," it said, warning of another wave of violence that would take the whole region back to the atmosphere that prevailed prior to the launching of the process.
The Palestinian territories were rocked by years of violence during the Intifada or popular unrising against the Israeli occupation until the signing of the 1993 Oslo peace accords - JERUSALEM (AFP)
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