US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned a terror attack in Jerusalem Wednesday that left one dead as “an atrocity,” while also admitting that peace efforts had gotten bogged down by what he termed “serious complications.”
Kerry met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Paris Wednesday hours after an East Jerusalem man rammed his car into a group of pedestrians at a light rail station, killing a Border Police guard. The attack was the latest in a series of violent incidents in Jerusalem that have roiled the capital and came as Amman said it would recall its ambassador from Israel in response to Israeli actions on the Temple Mount.
“I condemn today’s terrorist act of somebody driving in another car into innocent people standing on the roadside. That is not just a terrorist act and an act of – an atrocity, but it only makes matters worse. It only raises tensions,” Kerry said at a joint press conference with Judeh.
He called on both sides to “step back and find a way to create enough calm and enough space to be able to negotiate these difficult issues.”
A peace accord remains “an urgent priority, notwithstanding the very serious complications that have grown up over the course of the last months,” Kerry said.
The US secretary of state also called on the proponents of a peace agreement to intervene and quell the violence in the capital.
“There are those who oppose peace, and people need to not allow those who oppose peace to control what is happening in the region. The peacemakers need to control it, and they need to take steps to begin to move in a different direction,” he said.
In his remarks, Judeh also emphasized the need for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “so that we don’t have another Gaza and we don’t have these continuous violations and unilateral actions.”
Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur asked Juddeh earlier Wednesday to “recall the Jordanian ambassador from Tel Aviv in protest at Israel’s escalation on the Al-Aqsa mMsque compound,” the Petra news agency reported, referring to the Muslim moniker for the Temple Mount.
He also instructed him to lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council against “repeated attacks by Israel against Muslim holy sites,” it said, adding that the procedure was under way.
The move came as an Arab driver plowed his vehicle into a crowd of people at a light rail station along the seam-line between East and West Jerusalem late Wednesday morning, killing a Border Police officer, and injuring 14 more people, one of them critically.
US Jewish groups decry attack
Various Jewish organizations in the US denounced the attack on Wednesday, and criticized PA President Mahmoud Abbas for failing to decry the violence in the capital.
ADL head Abraham Foxman called on Abbas to “quickly and unequivocally condemn this senseless act of violence.”
“Silence from President Abbas on these incidents suggests an indifference to Palestinian terrorist activity directed at Israel, and raises questions about his commitment towards achieving a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said in a statement.
Similarly, AJC Executive Director David Harris appealed to the international community to speak out against the attack.
“Whatever the alleged ‘political’ motivations, such terrorist attacks would not be tolerated by any UN member state against their own citizens,” said Harris. “Astonishingly, PA President Mahmoud Abbas lauded the Palestinian who shot Glick, and to date has said nothing against the other terror attacks. To the contrary, he has resorted to incitement. Is this the language of a reliable peace partner with whom Israel is to pursue a two-state accord?”
B’nai B’rith International said in a statement that “this violent incident points to the constant threats faced by Israel and Israelis from terrorist organizations and their followers.”
“Following the first car attack, there was minimal outcry from the international community—an alarming lack of reaction considering there is an increasing focus on terrorist organizations, particularly in the Middle East,” it said, in reference to an attack at the Ammunition hill train stop on October 22, in which three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and 22-year-old Karen Yemima Muscara were killed.
The fatality was named as Border Police officer Jedan Assad, 38, from Beit Jann, a Druze village.
Palestinian Ma’an news agency identified the terrorist as 48-year-old Ibrahim al-Akary from Shuafat in East Jerusalem, a father of five.
Spencer Ho and AFP contributed to this report.