U.S. Calls on Israeli, Palestinian Authorities to Deescalate Jerusalem Tensions

'The United States urges both sides to exercise decisive leadership and work cooperatively together to lower tensions,' said State Department spokesperson Ned Price

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington
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A Palestinian man prays as Israeli police gather during clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, amid tension in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, in Jerusalem's Old City, yesterday.
A Palestinian man prays as Israeli police gather during clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, amid tension in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, in Jerusalem's Old City, yesterday.Credit: AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington

WASHINGTON - The U.S. issued an extensive statement Friday night detailing their deep and extreme concerns about growing tensions in Jerusalem that have left hundreds wounded over the past several days, calling on Israeli and Palestinian authorities to act decisively to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence.

"The United States is extremely concerned about ongoing confrontations in Jerusalem, including on the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount and in Sheikh Jarrah, which have reportedly resulted in scores of injured people," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in perhaps the Biden administration's most in-depth comment on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to date.

"There is no excuse for violence, but such bloodshed is especially disturbing now, coming as it does on the last days of Ramadan. This includes Friday’s attack on Israeli soldiers and reciprocal ‘price tag’ attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, which we condemn in no uncertain terms," Price said.

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"It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount – in word and in practice," Price added. "Leaders across the spectrum must denounce all violent acts. Security services must ensure the safety of all of Jerusalem’s residents and hold all perpetrators to account."

The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said some 205 people were wounded in clashes with police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and elsewhere in Jerusalem, including 88 who were hospitalized, in the most serious escalation of tensions that have been building up in Jerusalem over the past several weeks.

Price also highlighted America's deep concern about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of Jerusalem, noting that "many of whom have lived in their homes for generations."

"As we have consistently said, it is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace. This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism," Price said, adding that the State Department is in touch with senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work to deescalate the situation.

"The United States urges both sides to exercise decisive leadership and work cooperatively together to lower tensions, end the violence, and reinvigorate long-standing coordination mechanisms and relationships that have served their shared interests over the decades. We also urge the authorities to approach the residents of Sheikh Jarrah with compassion and respect, and consider the totality of these complex historical cases and how they impact real lives today," Price added.

Price's comments on Sheikh Jarrah come hours after progressive House Democrats sharply rebuked Israel's actions in Sheikh Jarrah, calling on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to pressure Israel on the matter. Dozens partook in the weekly demonstration against the eviction plans on Friday, which over the past weeks have attracted more crowds and attention.

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