Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Friday with US Secretary of State John Kerry, and told him he expects the Palestinian Authority to put a halt to the incitement against Israel that is fueling the current terror surge, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement Saturday.
Kerry said the status quo at Temple Mount must be upheld “in word and deed.”
Netanyahu’s office released the statement on another day of terror and violence that saw two stabbing attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem in which two ultra-Orthodox men and three policemen were injured.
Kerry said the US is aware that Israel is not seeking to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, the Netanyahu statement said. Claims that Israel intends to allow Jewish prayer at the contested holy site have been widely disseminated by Fatah, Hamas, Israel’s own Islamic Movement and others, despite insistent Israeli denials.
Kerry also spoke by phone with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who told him that “settlers have to stop provoking” the Palestinians, Israel Radio reported.
For his part, Kerry said he shared his “deep concern” over the spiraling violence with Netanyahu and Abbas. Kerry “stressed the importance of upholding the status quo in word and deed at the al-Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and of preventing inflammatory rhetoric and actions that will increase tensions,” said a statement from his office.
He also said the US would lend support where it can to restore calm.
On Friday, the State Department spokesman said the United States regards the ongoing spate of stabbings and shootings of Israelis by Palestinians, in which four Israelis have been killed and several more injured this month, as “acts of terror.”
Israel’s Channel 2 reported that the Islamic Movement continues to disseminate allegations that al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount is in danger. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Friday that Israel was looking into ways to grapple with the Islamic Movement, whose Northern Branch is headed by extremist Sheikh Raed Salah, who has served a number of jail terms for terror-related offenses.
There were also a series of demonstrations Saturday in Israeli Arab cities including Ramle and Nazareth, called to protest Israel’s ostensible plans relating to the Temple Mount, and to protest against alleged violence by the Israeli security forces in recent days. Several demonstrators were arrested in Ramle.