US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday the US is seeking “to figure out a way to help defuse the tensions and reduce the potential for more conflict” between Palestinians and Israelis.
According to the State Department, Kerry will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu in Rome Monday to discuss recent developments domestically and regionally before the pre-Christmas UN Security Council meeting.
Jordan, currently a member state at the UN Security Council, has circulated a draft Palestinian Statehood bid to end the occupation of the Palestinian territories and recognise Palestine as a state. The bid was backed by Arab nations.
Palestine’s statehood has been voted upon by several EU parliaments and acquired recognition from France, Spain, Britain and Ireland. However the final resolution of the UN Security Council is yet to be decided.
US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said: “The US supports the aspirations of the Palestinians to achieve statehood.” However, the US wanted to see a peace agreement prior giving Palestine statehood.
Tension has been on the rise between Israel and Palestine in Jerusalem since October in the area of Al-Aqsa mosque when Israeli forces stormed into the mosque while worshippers were praying. Later in November, two Palestinian militants attacked a synagogue, killing five worshippers.
A further increase in tension has taken place following “the killing of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein by Israeli forces” last week during a peaceful demonstration in Ramallah, according to deputy Minister of Information Khalifa Mahmoud.
Israel’s Prime Minister Spokesman Ofir Gendelman however stated that according to the autopsy report “the death of Ziad Abu Ein was caused by a blockage of the coronary artery”.
The Egyptian Ambassador in Palestine has passed President Al-Sisi’s condolences for the death of Abu Ein.
Al-Sisi met with Jordan’s King Abdullah Thursday to discuss the developments of the Arab-backed resolution that will be presented to the UN Security Council, and peace prospects between both Palestinians and Israelis.
Egypt has brokered peace talks between Israelis and Palestinian factions to reach a ceasefire in August to end the 50 day conflict that took place in the Gaza Strip, leaving over 2,000 Palestinians dead, and more than 60 Israelis killed, and with the strip still suffering the aftermath of the destruction that occurred during the conflict.
Talks were set to be continued in October, but were indefinitely postponed.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stressed Thursday the importance of the Egyptian efforts in Gaza. Abbas added the Palestinian Authority supports Egypt taking all the required measures to protect its national security, including a crackdown on Hamas members, if proven to be involved in any “terrorist act”. He added that this included closing down tunnels running between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, and banning any smuggling of weapons and people, according to state-run Al-Ahram.
Since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, militant operations against security personnel have increased in the restive Sinai Peninsula. Accordingly, the armed forces have taken security measures to combat militant operations and “ultimately eliminate terrorism” including: imposing the state of emergency for three months in Sinai; establishing a secure zone to destroy smuggling tunnels; and closing down the borders linking the Gaza Strip with Egypt.