Israel tells US not to intervene in Jerusalem crisis amid riots
Israel is warning the US not to intervene in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces amid riots in the Old City of Jerusalem — after US national security adviser Jake Sullivan expressed the Biden administration’s “serious concerns about the situation” in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart.
The conflict marks the first time the Biden administration has weighed in on Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Jerusalem following the Trump administration’s hands-off approach, Axios reported.
The Biden White House was reluctant to wade into the escalating tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis that have been growing in the past few weeks, but members of Congress and progressive groups urged it to act.
Sullivan reached out to Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat on Sunday to discuss the developments at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where some Palestinians are under threat of eviction.
According to a White House readout of the call, Sullivan raised “serious concerns about the situation in Jerusalem, including violent confrontations at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount during the last days of Ramadan.”
“Sullivan encouraged the Israeli government to pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm during Jerusalem Day commemorations,” the White House summary of the call said — referring to the Israeli national holiday on Monday commemorating the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War.
The statement said Sullivan and Ben Shabbat “agreed that the launching of rocket attacks and incendiary balloons from Gaza towards Israel is unacceptable and must be condemned.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also cautioned Israel to “exercise maximum restraint and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”
But Israeli officials told Axios that the Biden administration and the international community should keep their distance.
“International intervention is a reward to the Palestinian rioters and those who back them who were seeking international pressure on Israel,” an Israeli official told Axios, adding that Israel is handling the crisis “from a position of sovereignty and responsibility regardless of Palestinian provocations.”
The hilltop where the mosque sits is known as the Temple Mount by Jews, who consider it one of the holiest places in the world.
More than 300 Palestinians were injured fighting in Jerusalem with Israeli forces who fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at rioters at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, on Monday. Israeli police said 21 officers were hurt and seven civilians were injured.
Palestinian protesters responded by hurling stones at police.
In one incident, they threw rocks at an Israeli vehicle driving outside the Old City walls, causing it to veer off the road, hit a bystander and crash into a stone barrier.
Monday’s skirmish follows days of encounters between Israelis and Palestinians amid growing tension over the evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last Friday said he holds the Israeli government “responsible” for the unrest and expressed “full support for our heroes in Aqsa,” i24news reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is determined to ensure the right of worship for all and that this “requires from time to time stand up and stand strong as Israeli police and our security forces are doing now.”
A spokesman for Netanyahu, Ofir Gendelman, said extremist Palestinians had ”planned well in advance to carry out riots.”
Israeli police announced early Monday that Jews would be barred from visiting the holy site on Jerusalem Day, when crowds of flag-waving Israelis march through the Old City.