Obama Urges Netanyahu and Abbas to Tamp Down Rhetoric

'We condemn in the strongest possible terms violence directed against innocent people,' U.S. president says.

Kevin Drawbaugh
U.S. President Barack Obama, October 16, 2015.
U.S. President Barack Obama, October 16, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Kevin Drawbaugh

REUTERS - President Barack Obama said on Friday that he was very concerned about the outbreak of violence in Israel and that it was important for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to tamp down rhetoric that can aggravate the situation.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms violence directed against innocent people," the president said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet in Berlin next week to discuss the ongoing escalation in Jerusalem, the two agreed in a phone call Friday evening.

It is unclear if Kerry – who left on Friday for a European visit that will last several days – will hold a similar meeting with Abbas.

Violence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continued on Friday, as two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in clashes with security forces, and an Israeli soldier was stabbed and wounded by an assailant posing as a press photographer outside Hebron.

Earlier on Friday, a Palestinian mob threw firebombs at the Joseph's Tomb compound in Nablus. Palestinian security forces dispersed the rioters, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later condemned the attack, called an investigation into the incident and said the Palestinian Authority would repair the Jewish shrine.

Meanwhile, Israel's new ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said that Israel objects to any international involvement or oversight over the Temple Mount.

Speaking at a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, a few minutes before the start of a Security Council meeting on the escalation in Jerusalem, Danon said that there is no need for another general discussion on the situation, but rather a need to hold an emergency session on stopping Palestinian incitement, which is spearheaded by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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