December 14, 2017
Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kerry: Israel, Palestine agree to steps to calm Jerusalem tensions

A handout picture released by the Jordanian Royal Palace shows Jordan''s King Abdullah II (R) during a trilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Amman on November 13, 2014. (AFP)

Israel and the Palestinians have pledged to take concrete steps to calm tensions around Jerusalem's holiest site, US Secretary of State John Kerry said today after talks in the Jordanian capital.

Violence has flared in recent weeks over the compound, revered by Muslims as Noble Sanctuary, where al-Aqsa mosque stands, and by Jews as the Temple Mount, where their biblical temples once stood.

Clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians have raised fears they could trigger a new Palestinian uprising.

All parties had agreed to "specific and practical actions that both sides can take to restore calm," said Kerry, declining to say what those actions were.

"Today, we are working to smother the sparks of immediate tension so that they don't become a fire that is absolutely out of control," Kerry added, flanked by Jordanian Foreign Minister Naser Judeh. Jordan has custody over the sites.

He spoke after an unusual, nearly three-hour meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi joined in over the phone and promised to encourage resumption of collapsed Palestinian-Israeli talks, Kerry added.

Kerry met earlier in the day with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. But Abbas did not attend the three-way meeting with Netanyahu, a sign of deep distrust between Israel and the Palestinians.

Earlier, Abdullah accused Israel of "repeated attacks" on holy sites in Jerusalem and said they must stop. Jordanian religious officials who administer the Muslim sites have said there has been an unprecedented number of raids by ultra nationalists inside the mosque this year. Netanyahu has accused Palestinians in the West Bank of fomenting violence.

Jordanian officials fear wider unrest in the West Bank could spill over into their own country, where a majority of the population are descendents of Palestinians who fled across the river Jordan following the creation of Israel in 1948.

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Tags:  World  Middle East  Israel  Palestine  Kerry  US  Netanyahu  Jerusalem  

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