U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged calm in talks Sunday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict.
“The secretary continued to urge for calm and a decrease in violence, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement after the meeting during a visit to Jordan by the top U.S. diplomat.
The talks included discussions of tensions at a Jerusalem holy site — known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, where al-Aqsa mosque stands, and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Palestinian allegations that Israel is trying to alter the religious status quo at the site have helped fuel months of heightened violence.
Since October, Israeli security forces have killed at least 168 Palestinians, 111 of whom Israel says were assailants while most others were fatally shot during violent anti-Israeli protests.
Stabbings, shootings and car rammings by Palestinians have killed 28 Israelis and a U.S. citizen.
Kerry stressed the U.S. commitment to seeking a sustainable two-state solution and working with all parties to that end. He reiterated the U.S. policy on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements.
Palestinian leaders say many Palestinian attackers have acted out of desperation in the absence of movement toward creation of an independent state. Israel says they are being incited to violence by their leaders and on social media.