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U.N. chief criticizes Israel for 'repeated provocations' at Jerusalem's holy sites

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon criticized Israel during a visit to the West Bank on Monday, saying he was "deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem."

Ban's comments come as Israeli authorities prevented Palestinian worshippers from leaving the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City on Monday. Jewish worshippers were entering the area to celebrate the Sukkot holiday, and the Israeli police were apparently trying to "thwart a riot," according to The New York Times. Local media reports included details of Palestinian demonstrators throwing rocks at police officers, who reportedly fired tear gas into the crowd.

Ban said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needed to show more leadership in working toward peace. He also criticized Israel's plans to build roughly 2,500 homes in east Jerusalem's Givat Hamatos, which would "present another obstacle to the Palestinian goal of establishing a capital in the area," The Associated Press reports.

"This does not send the right signals, and I urge the government of Israel to reverse these activities," Ban said. "The status quo is not tenable. It is clear the sides must return to the negotiation table with the readiness to make the tough but necessary compromises."

Netanyahu, meanwhile, said that Israel is "committed to maintaining the status quo" on the Temple Mount. He said that "Palestinian extremists" have spread "false and baseless rumors" that Israel is "threatening the Muslim holy places."