French President Francois Hollande joined calls to maintain a ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, warning Wednesday that any change in the rules governing Judaism's holiest site could lead to "serious destabilisation."
In a telephone call with King Abdullah II of Jordan, which has custodianship rights over the contentious holy site via the Waqf Islamic trust, Hollande expressed his "deep concern" over clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police over the past three days.
Rioting erupted at the site sacred to both faiths as Jews celebrated their new year between Sunday evening and Tuesday evening.
Under an arrangement meant to placate extremist Muslims, Jews are allowed to visit the compound, but cannot pray there or perform any other acts of worship. In recent years, however, Islamist groups have mobilized in an organized campaign of harassment and violence to end even those limited Jewish visits to the site – while claiming it is the Israeli government which seeks to alter the "status quo" by allowing Jewish prayer.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his part has repeatedly denied those allegations, despite Jewish rights activists pressuring for an end to rules the Israeli courts have condemned as discriminatory.
Echoing comments by other world leaders, Hollande said any change in the status quo would lead to "a great risk of destabilisation."
"These events once again illustrate the importance of a swift return to talks to work towards a resolution of the conflict."
France is pushing to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which have stalled following a failed US diplomatic effort in April last year.
Jordan on Tuesday accused Israel of "flagrant aggression" against Arab and Muslim nations, and said it was looking at means to protect the Holy City.
Muslim violence over the past several days has left many Jewish residents of Jerusalem feeling both vulnerable and angry, accusing police and authorities of not doing enough to protect them.
Several civilians and members of the security forces have been injured, and one person – 64-year-old Alexander Levlovitz – was murdered by Arab rock-throwers on Sunday night.
In response to the violence, the Israeli government is mulling toughening security measures including changes to police rules of engagement to allow live fire to be used against rioters.
AFP contributed to this report.