Kerry seeks to restore ‘calm’ in Israel, Palestinian territories

This is the first visit for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Israel since start of 2014. (AP)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry began a one-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Tuesday saying he would discuss ways to restore calm with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Today I express my complete condemnation for any act of terror that takes innocent lives and disrupts the day-to-day life of a nation,” Kerry said.

With U.S.-backed Palestinian statehood negotiations frozen since 2014, Netanyahu said there could be no peace while an “onslaught of terror” continued.

Kerry was due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later in the day in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Abbas and other Palestinian leaders have accused Israel of using excessive force to quell attacks, saying that in many cases assailants could have been stopped and detained without being shot and killed. They have also described the violence as a consequence of Israel’s 48-year occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In Abu Dhabi on Monday, Kerry said Washington had ideas “for how things could proceed” to try to stem the violence. But he cautioned: “People aren’t in the mood for concessions”.

The recent wave of violence started on Oct. 1, with 92 Palestinians having been killed, as well as 17 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean.

Around half of the Palestinians killed, mainly teenagers, have been designated by Israel as alleged attackers. Others have been shot dead during clashes with Israeli forces.

The bloodshed has been driven in part by Palestinian frustration over stepped-up Jewish visits to East Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound, as well as decades-long occupation and Israeli policies.

Shortly before Kerry and Netanyahu convened in Jerusalem, a Palestinian allegedly tried to run over two Israeli soldiers and a border policeman near the Za’tara checkpoint south of the occupied Palestinian city of Nablus, according to the Israeli army.

Israeli forces shot and wounded the Palestinian driver. The three Israeli troops have been taken for further medical care.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:57 - GMT 10:57