(April 19, 2022 / JNS) As an Iron Dome air-defense system intercepted a missile launched on Monday night from the Gaza Strip over Israeli skies—and Jerusalem retaliated with an airstrike—U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated the department’s calls for both the Israelis and Palestinians to cease escalations.
Price said in his daily briefing that the department was deeply concerned about recent violence in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount and across the West Bank.
“We, as we did on Friday, continue to call on all sides to exercise restraint, to avoid provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount,” he said. “We also continue to urge Israeli and Palestinian officials to work cooperatively to lower tensions and ensure the safety of everyone.”
The department’s senior staff and American ambassadors across the Middle East have been in close communication with Israeli and Palestinian officials seeking to de-escalate tensions.
The same day, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone with Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi about the uptick in tensions. According to a readout of the conversation, Blinken discussed with his counterpart the importance of Israelis and Palestinians working to “end the cycle of violence by refraining from actions and rhetoric that further escalate tensions.”
Blinken also expressed his appreciation to Safadi for Jordan’s role as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
In recent days, Jordan has blamed Israel for escalating violence at the Al-Aqsa mosque, where Israeli police officers entered and made arrests of Palestinians who stockpiled rocks to hurl from the Temple Mount down on Jewish worshippers below at the Western Wall. Jordan even summoned Israel’s envoy to reprimand him over Israel’s actions.
Asked if he shared Jordan’s assessment that Israel has been heavy-handed in handling the situation at the mosque, Price replied that he was not in the position to make a detailed assessment.
Blinken spoke by phone to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday.
Lapid tweeted that Israel’s response was measured and responsible in the face of “riots by hundreds of Islamic extremists on the Temple Mount, as well as falsehoods and disinformation spread by extremists fanning the flames of violence instead of bringing about calm.”
He noted to Blinken that Israel will not tolerate calls supporting violence and emphasized the need for international support to return calm to Jerusalem.
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