US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Israeli, Palestininan and Jordanian leaders to discuss recent violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank that has escalated tensions in the region, officials said on Tuesday. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he updated the top US diplomat on Tuesday about Israel's efforts to ensure freedom of worship in Jerusalem, after clashes with Israeli riot police on Friday inside the Al Aqsa mosque compound in which at least 152 Palestinians were wounded. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Abbas told Blinken on Tuesday that "brutal attacks" by Israeli forces and settlers on the mosque compound and Israeli incursions into Palestinian cities and villages "will lead to dire and unbearable consequences," Palestinian news agency WAFA reported. Israeli security forces have been on high alert after a series of deadly Arab street attacks throughout the country over the past two weeks. Confrontations at the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem's walled Old City pose the risk of sparking a slide back into a broader conflagration like last year's Gaza war. In a call on Monday, Blinken and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi discussed the importance of Israelis and Palestinians working to end the violence and refraining from escalatory actions, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. "Secretary Blinken emphasised the importance of upholding the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, and appreciation for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s special role as custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem," Price said in a statement Tuesday. Jordan's King Abdullah said Israel's "unilateral" moves against Muslim worshippers at Al Aqsa mosque undermined the prospects for peace in the region, state media said. The monarch, in a call with the United Nations secretary general on Monday, blamed Israel for "provocative acts" in the mosque compound that violated "the legal and historic status quo" of the Muslim holy shrines. King Abdullah’s Hashemite monarchy has been custodian of the sites since 1924, paying for their upkeep and deriving part of its legitimacy from the role. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he told his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog that he was "very upset" by Palestinians injured or killed in the West Bank and Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramazan. In a tweet, Erdogan said the two leaders had discussed the recent events caused by "some radical Israeli groups and security forces" in a phone call that comes amid efforts to normalise ties between the two countries. The "raids by fanatic groups" at Al-Aqsa in recent days and the violence spreading to Gaza were also upsetting, Erdogan told Herzog. Erdogan said he also "emphasised the necessity of not allowing provocations and threats against the status and spirituality of the Al-Aqsa Mosque during this sensitive time." Regional rivals Turkey and Israel expelled ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over the Palestinian conflict, Turkish support of the Hamas militant group, which runs Gaza, and other issues. Turkey, which supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has said it believes a rapprochement with Israel will also help find a solution to the issue, but that it would not abandon commitments to Palestinians for better ties with Israel.
August 18, 2022
August 18, 2022