U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday, where he called for an end to “all incitement” and “all violence” as the security situation continues to deteriorate in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“It is absolutely critical to end all incitement, to end all violence and to find a road forward to build the possibility which is not there today for a larger process,” he said. “Today you and I can really rekindle that process.
“I believe people want this to de-escalate,” he added, saying that he had spoken to both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II and both had spoken of their commitment to restoring calm.
The U.S.’s top diplomat is to meet with Abbas and Abdullah on Saturday in Amman to discuss the escalation in violence in which eight Israelis have been killed in shooting and stabbing attacks committed by Palestinians and at least 49 Palestinians, 25 of whom were attackers, have died in clashes with Israeli forces.
At the start of the meeting between Netanyahu and Kerry, the Israeli leader repeated his call for the Palestinian leadership to stop “spreading lies” about Israel. “There is no question this wave of attacks is driven directly by incitement, incitement by Hamas, incitement from the Islamist movement in Israel and incitement, I am sorry to say, from President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority,” Netanyahu told Kerry.
“I think it is time for the international community to say clearly to President Abbas to stop spreading lies about Israel,” he said. “Lies that Israel wants to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, lies that Israel wants to tear down the Al-Aqsa Mosque, lies that Israel is executing Palestinians. All of that is false.”
Following the four-hour meeting with Netanyahu, Kerry said that he was positive there would be progress in the calming of tensions between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership.
“I come directly from several hours of conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu and I would characterize that conversation as one that gave me a cautious measure of optimism that there may be some things that may be in the next couple of days put on the table which would have an impact—I hope,” Kerry told reporters, according to Associated Press.
“I don’t want to be excessive in stating that, but I am cautiously encouraged.”
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also met with Netanyahu and Abbas this week after making a surprise trip to the Middle East in a bid to calm tensions between the two parties. He met with Abdullah on Thursday, saying that it was “the responsibility of Arab leaders to encourage calm.”
The most recent wave of violence began in part because of perceived violations of the status quo, on both sides, at the Jerusalem holy site known as the Temple Mount to Jews and Al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims. Kerry repeated the call he made earlier this week for clarity over the status quo agreement at the site.
Netanyahu angered Palestinians this week when he blamed a former Palestinian leader for the Nazis’ extermination of millions of Jews during a speech he made at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. The Israeli leader said that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini convinced Adolf Hitler to kill the Jews rather than expel them.