Kerry plans meet with Israeli, PA leaders as diplomacy intensifies


US Secretary of State John Kerry plans to meet with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas later this week, in an attempt to ease tensions.

Terror attacks across the country during the last two weeks, mainly stabbings, have left nine Israelis dead. Israeli leaders have accused Palestinian leaders of stoking the violence with incitement, especially over baseless claims that Israel is attempting to alter the Temple Mount status quo and Abbas’s assertion last week that Israeli forces are “executing” Palestinians by neutralising terrorists as they perpetrate attacks.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders last week criticised a US assessment indicating that Israel is using excessive force to quell the violence, but Kerry reportedly reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself during a call with Netanyahu on Friday.

Announcing the upcoming meetings, Kerry said, “Later this week I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu because he will be in Germany… we will meet there … And then I will go to the region and I will meet with President Abbas.” Israeli media reports have suggested that Kerry is planning a four-way meeting in Jordan including himself, Netanyahu, Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah. Netanyahu’s travel plans may be changed depending on the security situation, according to Israeli media reports.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council will today begin discussions over a statement on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. It may include a French proposal to station international observers on the Temple Mount, which Netanyahu yesterday rejected as “It contains no mention of Palestinian incitement or Palestinian terror.” Netanyahu reiterated once more that Israel has no intention to alter the Temple Mount status quo.

At the same time, Yediot Ahronot says that the Palestinian delegation to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation) will submit a proposal to recognise the Western Wall as part of the al-Aqsa Mosque. Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen accused the Palestinians of continuing “to add fuel to the fire of incitement and ongoing terror” with an act which counters “ethical, realistic and historical truth.”