Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday that Israel would only implement trust-building measures with the Palestinians when the violence against Israelis abates entirely, a senior Israeli official said.
During their meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said Israel would only agree to take steps to improve the security and economic situation for Palestinians in the West Bank when calm is fully restored, according to the official.
There is no settlement freeze, nor will there be one, Netanyahu continued, according to the senior official. If the international community wants Israel to okay building plans for Palestinians, it should recognize Israel’s construction in the settlement blocs, the prime minister declared.
Netanyahu told Kerry that the core problem driving the terror attacks is “religious incitement” by the Palestinian Authority spread via social media, especially surrounding the Temple Mount, according to the official. “The PA participates in the incitement,” Netanyahu is said to have told Kerry.
After his sit-down with Netanyahu, Kerry met with President Reuven Rivlin, telling him that he condemns Palestinian violence and no amount of frustration can justify the attacks.
“This is a challenge to all civilized people. We all have a responsibility to condemn that violence, to make it clear that you know no frustration, no politics, no ideology, no emotion justifies taking innocent lives,” Kerry said, according to Rivlin’s spokesperson, echoing comments he made earlier with Netanyahu.
“I stand here with you to express our outrage at this kind of violence, to condemn this violence, and to make it clear that Israel not only has a right to defend itself, but has an obligation to do so.
“The United States will continue to stand with Israel in support of your desire to live in peace and stability, without that violence,” he said.
It was Kerry’s first visit in Jerusalem in over a year. He was scheduled to head to Ramallah later Tuesday, for a sit-down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.