Talk with Netanyahu Gives US Diplomat ‘Cautious Optimism’

Illustrative. US Secretary of State Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of US State Department.

Illustrative. US Secretary of State Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of US State Department.

There may be a way to “pull back from the precipice” of violence engulfing Israel and the Palestinians, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry, and his plan apparently starts with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After meeting with the Israeli leader on Thursday, Kerry described the conversation as giving him “a cautious measure of optimism.”

“I don’t want to be excessive in stating that,” said Kerry in comments released by the State Department, “but I am cautiously encouraged that we discussed a number of different things that now need to be discussed with [Jordanian] King Abdullah, with [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas, with others in the region.” Kerry plans to meet with King Abdullah and Abbas on Saturday in efforts to calm a firestorm of Palestinian terror attacks against Israel.

The Palestinian anger is motivated by outlandish accusations that Israel is changing the religious status quo atop the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock sits, claims that Israel has repeatedly denied as lies and incitement.

That Israeli response was heard by Kerry as well. In a separate statement released by Kerry’s office, the Americans said that during the talk with Netanyahu “a number of constructive proposals were suggested‎, including steps Israel could take to reaffirm yet again the continued commitment to maintaining the status quo.”

Israel apparently is once again tasked with providing a solution to the problem, although Netanyahu also reminded Kerry what the real issue to this escalation is.

“I think it’s time for the international community to say clearly to President Abbas: Stop spreading lies about Israel. Lies that Israel wants to change the status quo on the temple mount, lies that Israel wants to tear down the al-Aqsa Mosque and lies that Israel is executing Palestinians,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office.

“All that is false. We remain committed to the status quo. We’re the ones that protect all the holy sites. And Israel is acting to protect its citizens as any democracy would in the face of such wanton and relentless attacks.”

Kerry wasn’t the only key global player that Netanyahu met with on Thursday. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also spoke with Netanyahu. The Israeli leader said that international promotion of Israel’s commitment to the status quo and pressing the Palestinians to stop their incitement are “important” elements in efforts to “defuse the situation,” according to comments released by Netanyahu’s office.

Said Netanyahu in his discussion with Kerry: “To generate hope, we have to stop the terrorism. To stop the terrorism, we have to stop the incitement. And I think it’s time that the international community told President Abbas to stop the incitement and hold him accountable for his words and his deeds.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 22, 2015)

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