While peace talks between Israel and Palestine have stalled, there were violent clashes at Jerusalem's holiest site on Thursday. In the worst violence in several years, Israeli police fired tear gas and rubber coated metal bullets at Palestinians protesting over a visit by hardline Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount. About 30 people were reported injured during the riot. The area - sacred to both Moslems, Jews and Christians - lies on territory captured by Israel during the 1967 war, and is at the heart of the fierce dispute over the sovereignty of Jerusalem. Mr Sharon was heavily guarded as he toured the compound. Commentators say the visit was clearly intended to underline Jewish claims to the city and its holy sites. In protest, hundreds of Palestinians shouted at they tried to break through the cordon surrounding Mr Sharon. Mr Sharon read a statement saying he had come with a message of peace in order to help things move forward. Yassar Arafat described the visit as a "dangerous step". On many occasions recently, Pope John Paul II has called for Jerusalem to be given special status. Reports that the Israeli government is considering international sovereignty of the Temple Mount site have been denied by officials. The concept of some kind of shared administration by Jewish, Muslim and Christians has been discussed many times. Under the 1949 United Nations resolution on the partition of Palestine, Jerusalem was designated as a special international city to be administered by the UN.
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