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Israel drops age limits for Aqsa access

The decision came shortly after a meeting in Amman between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Israeli authorities have dropped restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, allowing worshippers of all ages into the holy city.

Israeli police said Thursday that there will be no age restrictions on Muslim worshipers for Friday prayers at the Al-AqsaMosque.

The decision came shortly after a meeting in Amman between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

After the meeting, Netanyahu said that Israel was committed to preserving the current situation at holy sites in East Jerusalem, according to a statement by the Jordanian royal court.

A top American diplomat also said “steps had been agreed upon to lower tensions between Israel and the Palestinians over Jerusalem’s holy site,” Israeli media reported.

Earlier this month, Jordan – which is responsible for Jerusalem's holy sites in line with a 1994 peace treaty with Israel – has recently recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv to protest Israeli "violations" in East Jerusalem.

Tension has run high in East Jerusalem since late last month, when Israel closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for several hours after an extremist rabbi was injured in a West Jerusalem drive-by shooting.

Unrest mounted further when Israeli forces killed a young Palestinian man suspected of shooting the rabbi in a raid on his East Jerusalem home.

Further aggravating the situation, a number of Israeli parliamentarians have forced their way into the mosque complex in recent days and weeks, drawing the ire of Muslim worshippers and official condemnation from Arab and Muslim countries.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon triggered what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.

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