Israel reopens mosque

JERUSALEM: Israel reopened the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound and lifted a days-old lockdown of the occupied West Bank today, a day after Jerusalem saw the heaviest Palestinian rioting in years.

Tensions also appeared to be easing between Israel and its key ally the United States after a bitter diplomatic row erupted over new settlement plans announced last week during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden.

But Israel and the Palestinians again accused each other of hampering the hobbled peace process. Three thousand police stationedaround the Old City remained on high alert amid fears of further unrest, but authorities lifted restrictions on access to the mosque compound. The holiest site for Jews and the third holiest for Muslims, the site had been closed to Muslim men under the age of 50 and all non-Muslims since Friday. Defence Minister Ehud Barak lifted a days-old lockdown of the West Bank overnight.