Trump Envoy Jason Greenblatt to Arrive in Israel on Monday in Bid to De-escalate Temple Mount Crisis

Senior official in the Trump administration said that Greenblatt is heading to the Middle East 'to support efforts to reduce tensions in the region'

Israeli border guards fire a stun grenade in an attempt to disperse Palestinian Muslim worshippers outside Lions' Gate, a main entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, on July 22, 2017, as they gather in protest against new Israeli security measures implemented at the holy site following an attack that killed two Israeli policemen the previous week.
AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI

U.S. envoy to the peace process Jason Greenblatt will arrive in Israel on Monday amid the backdrop of the Temple Mount crisis and escalating tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A senior official in the Trump administration said that Greenblatt is heading to the region "to support efforts to reduce tensions in the region."

During his Israel visit, Greenblatt is expected to be in contact with Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner and keep him updated on the contents of his talks.

Temple Mount crisis: Fears of political rivals led Netanyahu to make a grave error ■ Jerusalem unifies the Muslims through struggle ■ Jordan, Egypt look to help Israel out of Temple Mount bind ■ Between political and legal fears, any sign of leadership in Israel is absent ■ To quell protests, Israel divides and conquers in Jerusalem

"President Trump and his administration are closely following unfolding events in the region," the senior official said. "We are engaged in discussions with the relevant parties and are committed to finding a resolution to the ongoing security issues."

The official added that "The United States utterly condemns the recent terrorist violence including  the horrific attack Friday night that killed three people at their Shabbat dinner table in Halamish and sends condolences to the families of the innocent victims."

Since last week, the White House has been holding talks with Israel, Jordan, the Palestinians and other entities in the Arab world in an effort to find a solution to the Temple Mount crisis and stop the violence from escalating further, according to Israeli officials and Arab diplomats who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The White House has been seriously concerned about the escalation over the last few days, but so far has been approaching the issue through quiet diplomatic channels and avoiding public statements. Kushner is working on a solution to the crisis alongside Greenblatt, the U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv, David Friedman, and the U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem, Donald Blome.

Over the past week, the Trump administration has been trying to prevent escalation. On Wednesday night, when  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Hungary at the time, returned to his hotel in Budapest from a Jewish community event, he held a 30-minute conference call with Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman, during which the four tried to come up with a plan that would reduce tensions.  A source familiar with the contents of the talk who asked to remain anonymous said the White House officials didn't demand that Netanyahu remove the Temple Mount metal detectors, but discussed security arrangements on Temple Mount and how to implement them in effectively.

A similar conversation was held on Thursday between Kushner and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Kushner urged Abbas to take action toward calming down the situation ahead of the Friday prayers on Temple Mount and discussed ways to prevent escalation. For his part, Abbas told Kushner that the Trump administration must intervene and demand that Israel remove the metal detectors from the entrances to the Temple Mount. The situation is very dangerous and could spin out of control if Israel doesn't reconsider the steps that it has taken at the holy site, the Palestinian president told Kushner.