Blinken calls for 'practical steps' in Jerusalem while Jordan calls situation 'red line'

US secretary of state called on all parties to ease tension

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday called on all parties to ease tension in Jerusalem and urged practical steps towards that end.

“We are very focused on the situation in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza," Mr Blinken said before his meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi.

"We are very deeply concerned about the rocket attacks that we are seeing now that need to stop and need to stop immediately."

He said Israel had the right to defend itself against rocket attacks and repeated US concerns about "provocative actions" near the Haram Al Sharif, one of Islam's holiest sites.

“All sides need to de-escalate, reduce tension and take practical steps to calm things down,” Mr Blinken said.

He said delaying the decision on the evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and rerouting the Jerusalem Day parade were appreciated by Washington, but more needed to be done.

Mr Al Safadi, whose country is custodian of Haram Al Sharif, said: “Jerusalem is a red line and maintaining peace and stability is key.”

He also called for de-escalation and said “all illegal and provocative measures against the [people] of Sheikh Jarrah or in terms of violations into [Haram Al Sharif] must stop".

“The status quo must be preserved and the rights of Palestinians need to be respected,” Mr Al Safadi said.

He also met US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday.

“Mr Sullivan recognized the special role Jordan plays in overseeing holy shrines in Jerusalem and thanked Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Safadi for the Kingdom’s efforts with Palestinian and Israeli authorities to bring about calm in the final days of the Holy Month of Ramadan,” a statement by the White House read.

On Sunday, Mr Sullivan spoke with Israeli security chief Meir Ben-Shabbat and expressed “serious concerns about the potential evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood".

Under popular and external pressure, Israel’s Supreme Court delayed on Sunday a decision to expel six Palestinian families from the neighbourhood.

On Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Biden administration was very "extremely concerned" about the use of rubber bullets inside Al Aqsa Mosque, in Haram Al Sharif, by Israeli police.

“This has been ongoing for days and we have seen tensions escalate,” Mr Price said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the situation “unacceptable".

Some Republican leaders have voiced their support for Israel's right to "self-defence".

The situation continued to intensify on Monday when Hamas fired about 100 rockets into Israel, Israeli media reported.

Israel retaliated with air strikes in Gaza that killed 20 Palestinians, the Gazan Health Ministry said.

Hundreds have been wounded in clashes in Jerusalem since Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

Updated: May 11, 2021 04:06 AM

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