Israel’s coalition faces mounting blame for Jerusalem clashes

Israel’s coalition faces mounting blame for Jerusalem clashes

The clashes in Jerusalem that have sparked tensions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan spread into Sunday, triggering 18 arrests and putting further strain on Israel's coalition government.

Israeli riot police faced off with fireworks-hurling Palestinians in the alleyways of the walled Old City after a visit by Jews to a disputed holy site.

Several passengers on two buses were lightly wounded when stone-throwing Palestinians smashed the windows. A group of Jewish worshippers was attacked.

Sunday s clashes were less violent than clashes at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound two days earlier, but they were enough to prompt a small but pivotal Arab party to review its membership in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's ruling coalition, which no longer has a majority in parliament.

The United Arab List - the first party drawn from the country's 21% Arab minority to join an Israeli government, said it was suspending its government membership over Israel's handling of the Al Qaeda violence and would consider resigning if things did not change.

The coalition of Bennett controls 60 of 120 seats in the parliament, including four from the United Arab List.

Some political commentators said that the announcement was a symbolic gesture to take pressure off party leaders during the crisis and could be resolved by the time parliament reconvenes next month.

The Old City is located in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and Palestinians want to make the capital of a future state.

Tensions over Jerusalem spawned an 11 day war between Israel and Hamas Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip last May.

Bennett lost his razor-thin parliamentary majority this month after a lawmaker from his nationalist party quit.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said two Palestinian men were seriously injured by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank on Monday.

Hundreds of Palestinians began throwing rocks and explosives at the troops, who returned fire after the Israeli military was conducting an arrest in the village of Yamun, west of Jenin in the northern West Bank.

The soldiers responded with live ammunition toward the suspects who hurled explosive devices. The army said in a statement that hitters were identified.

The two wounded men were hospitalized, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The military arrested 11 Palestinians in raids across the West Bank overnight on Monday.

Israel has sent troops to search through Palestinian cities and villages in search of suspects or accomplices linked to two deadly attacks on Israelis in recent weeks. Earlier this month, a Palestinian gunman opened fire at a crowded Tel Aviv bar, killing three, and fled the scene. He was later killed in a shoot-off with police after an extensive manhunt.

The attacks against Israel have killed 14 people, the deadliest bloodshed against Israelis in years, as well as three other attacks elsewhere in Israel in recent weeks.

According to an Associated Press count, at least 25 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the past few weeks. Many of them had carried out attacks or were involved in the clashes, but an unarmed woman and a lawyer who appears to have been a bystander were also killed.