White House conveys ‘serious concerns’ on call with Israel over Jerusalem clashes

The White House expressed its “serious concerns” over the weekend to Israel’s government about a series of clashes in east Jerusalem between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters that continued in the contested city on Monday.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan addressed the situation in a phone call on Sunday with his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat, during which Sullivan “highlighted recent engagements by senior U.S. officials with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials and key regional stakeholders to press for steps to ensure calm, deescalate tensions, and denounce violence,” according to a White House readout of the conversation.

The most recent clashes coincided with Israel’s Jerusalem Day celebrations, marked by Israeli nationalists who parade through the city each year to assert their claim to the disputed area. The skirmishes have played out near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City — known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary — where more than 300 Palestinians were hurt on Monday.

Although Israeli officials altered the route of Jerusalem Day marchers to avoid the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, the conflict intensified in the evening after Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets toward Jerusalem and set a deadline for the removal of Israeli security forces from the Al-Aqsa mosque.

In his call with Ben-Shabbat, Sullivan “encouraged the Israeli government to pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm during Jerusalem Day commemorations,” the White House said. Sullivan also “expressed the administration’s commitment to Israel’s security and to supporting peace and stability throughout the Middle East, and assured Mr. Ben-Shabbat that the U.S. will remain fully engaged in the days ahead to promote calm in Jerusalem.”

Exacerbating the unrest in east Jerusalem are the efforts of Jewish settlers in the city’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood who are seeking to evict several Palestinian families — a matter that similarly merited “serious concerns” in the White House, Sullivan told Ben-Shabbat.

The two national security advisers met in person in Washington, D.C., late last month to discuss diplomacy toward Iran, as the U.S. works to rejoin the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran that former President Donald Trump abandoned. Israel remains hesitant about restarting the pact.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who in 2018 became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, weighed in on the clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque in a tweet on Monday — describing the scene as a “place of peace desecrated by violence” and demanding that the U.S. condition its foreign aid to Israel.

“Al-Aqsa is the 3rd holiest site in Islam, & people praying during the holiest days of the holy month of Ramadan have been beaten, gassed, shot, & killed by Israeli forces. They are denied medics & forced to use prayer mats as stretchers,” Tlaib wrote online.

Responding to Tlaib, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and the United Nations Gilad Erdan accused the congresswoman of “stoking tensions” with her messages and posted an image of what appeared to be a heap of stones inside the compound.

“Congresswoman @RashidaTlaib maybe you should open your eyes to the whole picture?” Erdan tweeted. “Islam’s 3rd holiest site is being used to stockpile Molotov cocktails and rocks that are being lobbed at the police and at Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall, below the Temple Mount.”

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The White House expressed its “serious concerns” over the weekend to Israel’s government about a series of clashes in east Jerusalem between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters that continued in the contested city on Monday.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan addressed the situation in a phone call on Sunday with his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat, during which Sullivan “highlighted recent engagements by senior U.S. officials with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials and key regional stakeholders to press for steps to ensure calm, deescalate tensions, and denounce violence,” according to a White House readout of the conversation.

The most recent clashes coincided with Israel’s Jerusalem Day celebrations, marked by Israeli nationalists who parade through the city each year to assert their claim to the disputed area. The skirmishes have played out near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City — known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary — where more than 300 Palestinians were hurt on Monday.

Although Israeli officials altered the route of Jerusalem Day marchers to avoid the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, the conflict intensified in the evening after Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets toward Jerusalem and set a deadline for the removal of Israeli security forces from the Al-Aqsa mosque.

In his call with Ben-Shabbat, Sullivan “encouraged the Israeli government to pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm during Jerusalem Day commemorations,” the White House said. Sullivan also “expressed the administration’s commitment to Israel’s security and to supporting peace and stability throughout the Middle East, and assured Mr. Ben-Shabbat that the U.S. will remain fully engaged in the days ahead to promote calm in Jerusalem.”

Exacerbating the unrest in east Jerusalem are the efforts of Jewish settlers in the city’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood who are seeking to evict several Palestinian families — a matter that similarly merited “serious concerns” in the White House, Sullivan told Ben-Shabbat.

The two national security advisers met in person in Washington, D.C., late last month to discuss diplomacy toward Iran, as the U.S. works to rejoin the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran that former President Donald Trump abandoned. Israel remains hesitant about restarting the pact.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who in 2018 became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, weighed in on the clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque in a tweet on Monday — describing the scene as a “place of peace desecrated by violence” and demanding that the U.S. condition its foreign aid to Israel.

“Al-Aqsa is the 3rd holiest site in Islam, & people praying during the holiest days of the holy month of Ramadan have been beaten, gassed, shot, & killed by Israeli forces. They are denied medics & forced to use prayer mats as stretchers,” Tlaib wrote online.

Responding to Tlaib, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and the United Nations Gilad Erdan accused the congresswoman of “stoking tensions” with her messages and posted an image of what appeared to be a heap of stones inside the compound.

“Congresswoman @RashidaTlaib maybe you should open your eyes to the whole picture?” Erdan tweeted. “Islam’s 3rd holiest site is being used to stockpile Molotov cocktails and rocks that are being lobbed at the police and at Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall, below the Temple Mount.”

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