US calls for calm between Israelis and Palestinians as Abbas and Blinken speak

Palestinian president and American secretary of state discuss importance of working to maintain calm

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The US is calling for a de-escalation of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians after the storming of Al Aqsa mosque courtyard in East Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas discussed the matter in a call to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken late on Tuesday.

The pair spoke about the “importance of Israelis and Palestinians working to maintain calm and de-escalate tensions”, according to a statement by the US State Department.

At the weekend, thousands of Israelis rallied for their annual national flag march, with some chanting “death to Arabs”.

The event regularly stokes Palestinian anger, with last year's tensions in the disputed city leading to war.

The rally resulted in the injury of at least 79 Palestinians, according to the Red Crescent, prompting condemnation from across the Arab region and the UN.

“The secretary emphasised the importance of the US-Palestinian relationship, and the administration’s support for a negotiated two-state solution,” state department spokesman Ned Price said about the call between Mr Abbas and Mr Blinken.

“Secretary Blinken underscored the importance of concluding the investigations into the death of Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh,” Mr Price said.

The prominent Al Jazeera reporter Abu Akleh was shot dead on May 11 during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

Washington has previously told Israeli and Palestinian authorities it expects “the investigations to be transparent and impartial, a full, thorough accounting into the circumstances of the killing”.

“We do expect full accountability for those responsible for her killing. Again, we are not going to prejudge that investigation. Both investigations are ongoing,” Mr Price said last month.

The official said the US had pressed both sides for full accountability and are not expected to be updated on the status of the investigation.

Mr Price said US President Joe Biden's administration is committed to reopening a US consulate in Jerusalem. The US will discuss the issue with Israelis and Palestinians, he said.

Former US president Donald Trump moved Washington's Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018 and shut down a separate facility in Jerusalem that served as a consulate for Palestinians.

Updated: June 01, 2022, 8:54 AM
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