Abbas asks for US to intervene in holy shrine tension in Jerusalem

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked the United States to intervene in a dispute with Israeli officials over metal detectors in a long-contested shrine near the Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem.

Senior Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rdeneh said Friday that Abbas discussed the growing tensions in Jerusalem in a phone call with Trump's top adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Abu Rdeneh says Abbas told Kushner the situation is "extremely dangerous and may go out of control" unless Israel removes the metal detectors, the Associated Press reported.

It was not immediately clear if the U.S. will intervene.

Israel banned Muslim men under age 50 from a contested Jerusalem shrine Friday and deployed about 3,000 police nearby, ahead of expected Muslim protests over the installation of metal detectors at the holy site.

Police installed the metal detectors earlier this week, after Palestinian gunmen launched an attack from the shrine and killed two Israeli police officers. Muslim leaders have alleged that the metal detectors are part of a purported Israeli attempt to expand control over the site.

Israel has denied such allegations, arguing that metal detectors are routine security devices.

A Palestinian advocacy group says Israeli police have detained 10 prominent Palestinian activists in Jerusalem, including the leader of Abbas' Fatah movement.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club says the city's Fatah chief, Hatem Abdel Khader, was among those detained.

The volatile Jerusalem shrine, revered by Muslims and Jews alike, sits at the center of rival Israeli and Palestinian national narratives and has triggered major confrontations in the past.

Friday is the highlight of the Muslim religious week, and tens of thousands of worshippers typically perform prayers at the shrine.

Jews revere the site, where the two Jewish temples stood in biblical times, as the Temple Mount. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the nearby Western Wall, a remnant of one of the temples, is the holiest place where Jews can pray.

Muslims regard the same hilltop compound as the Noble Sanctuary. Home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, it is Islam's third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

The fate of the area is an emotional issue at the heart of the conflict and forms the centerpiece of rival Israeli and Palestinian national narratives.

Muslim leaders have urged the faithful to forego prayers in smaller Jerusalem neighborhood mosques Friday and converge on the shrine, in an attempt to increase the crowd size.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the security Cabinet decided to defer to police on security arrangements at the shrine.

"The Cabinet authorized the police to make all decisions in order to ensure free access to holy sites while ensuring security and public order," the statement said. It added that Israel is committed to preserving "the status quo at the Temple Mount and free access to holy sites."

The decision to defer to police came amid reports of disagreement among Israel's security services about the need for the metal detectors. The military and the Shin Bet security services, which deal directly with Palestinians and potential unrest, were reportedly opposed to the devices.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.