US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas this week in a bid to ease tensions that have erupted in a surge of deadly Palestinian terror attacks and violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and at the Gaza border.
Kerry scheduled talks with Netanyahu in Germany and then, after a meeting on Syria in an as-yet undetermined location, intends to see Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah in the Mideast, he said Sunday.
“Later this week I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu because he will be in Germany… we will meet there,” Kerry said in Paris, where he made a brief stop as part of a Europe tour that has already taken him to Milan.
“And then I will go to the region and I will meet with President Abbas, I will meet with King Abdullah [of Jordan] and others.
Kerry did not give the exact dates, but US officials said the secretary would probably be in Germany on Thursday and Jordan on Saturday.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss Kerry’s travel plans.
Israeli reports have suggested that Kerry is attempting to put together a summit with Netanyahu and Abbas in Jordan, but the Palestinian leader has rejected the idea of meeting with the Israeli prime minister.
Netanyahu has said he would be open to meeting Abbas.
The terrorism and violence has seen eight Israelis killed and dozens more injured by Palestinians in a spate of stabbings and other attacks, including rioting in several West Bank cities and at the Gaza border. Forty-one Palestinians have been killed in the violence, including 20 identified by Israel as attackers.
Netanyahu on Sunday reiterated his rejection of a French proposal to deploy international monitors at the Temple Mount saying Israel is “not the problem” at the volatile Jerusalem shrine, but rather the “solution” there.
France submitted a draft proposal on the issue to the UN Security Council on Friday evening, which Netanyahu on Saturday slammed as “absurd.”
The Palestinians claim that Israel is seeking to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, a charge that Israel vehemently denies. Jews currently can visit but not pray at the Mount, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Kerry held phone calls with Netanyahu and Abbas last week in a bid to ease tensions. On Friday, he told Netanyahu he condemned the terror attacks and supported Israel’s right to defend itself.
A day earlier Kerry called Abbas and “reiterated the importance of avoiding further violence and preventing inflammatory rhetoric, accusations and actions that will increase tensions,” the official said.
Kerry also said he “hoped to visit the region at the appropriate moment.”
AFP contributed to this report.