US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israel and the Palestinians on Monday to demonstrate calm and avoid further escalation as violent clashes continued in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Kerry was speaking at an event at Chile’s Congress in Valparaiso after days of clashes and deadly terror attacks led Israel to ban West Bank Palestinians from entering the Old City of Jerusalem, home to the Temple Mount, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims.
“Regarding Jerusalem, it absolutely is unacceptable on either side to have to have violence resorted to as a solution,” he said.
“And I would caution everybody to be calm, not to escalate the situation and to deal with this in a way that can find quick way back to the full restoration of the status quo where the chief administration is in the hands of the government of Jordan and King Abdullah, who is the custodian,” he said, referring to the Temple Mount compound where the al-Aqsa Mosque is located.
“And it is very important to maintain a sense of calm that will minimize the instinct for escalation.”
As clashes continued Monday in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli security forces shot dead a 13-year-old Palestinian in Bethlehem, the second such killing in 24 hours, after two separate terror attacks in which four Israelis were killed on Thursday and Saturday.
The spike in violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has raised concerns the unrest could spin out of control, with memories of the previous two intifadas still fresh.
As part of Israel’s unprecedented security measures following the most recent attacks, Jerusalem’s Old City remained closed to Palestinians for a second straight day.
A senior PA official told The Times of Israel on Monday that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been communicating in the past 24 hours in an attempt to calm the escalating violence. The official noted that Palestinian protests in the past two days have started to draw hundreds of youths, underlining concerns, he said, “that we are witnessing the start of a third intifada.”