US urges restraint in Jerusalem


MIDEAST-BETHLEHEM-PROTESTThe US today voiced concern about escalating tensions across Jerusalem, urging all sides to refrain from “provocative actions”.

“We condemn yesterday’s shooting of a US citizen in Jerusalem,” Xinhua quoted State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki as saying at a daily press briefing. “We’re extremely concerned by escalating tensions across Jerusalem and particularly surrounding the Haram al-Sharif and Temple Mount.”

Tensions flared up in Jerusalem after US-born Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a prominent far-right Israeli activist advocating for Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, was shot Wednesday night. A Palestinian suspected of the shooting was killed in a shootout with Israeli police the next morning outside his home in east Jerusalem.

Clashes broke out in east Jerusalem and the old city of Jerusalem following the Palestinian’s death.

Israeli forces closed off the Al Aqsa Mosque in the old city of Jerusalem for hours Thursday, in a move denounced as a “declaration of war” by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The mosque was reopened to Muslims Thursday evening.

“It is actually critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric and preserve the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif, Temple Mount in word and in practice,” Psaki said, adding “the continued commitment by Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians to preserve the historic status quo at this holy site is critical. Any decisions or actions to change it would be both provocative and dangerous”.

She said she expected Secretary of State John Kerry to speak to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the next 24 hours.