Both called for an end to the incitement, with Kerry adding that now is a time for action above rhetoric.
“Obviously, this conversation that you and I will have is very important to settle on the steps that will be taken that take us beyond the condemnation and beyond the rhetoric,” Kerry said in remarks before their meeting. “It is absolutely critical to end all incitement and all violence, and to find a road forward to build the possibility that is not there today for a larger process.”
He reiterated that Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo agreement at the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
Palestinians have argued that the latest round of violence that began in early October was triggered by Israeli provocations at the mosque, with visits by far-right settlers and ministers, escorted by Israeli security. Israel’s chief rabbi says Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount and Netanyahu has argued that nothing has changed in the unwritten agreement that governs the holy site.
Before today’s meeting, Kerry was reportedly looking for “clarity” from Netanyahu on the status of Al Aqsa.
But many Palestinians say the mosque is simply the trigger for the unrest that is fueled by deeper anger over Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They see the actions at Al Aqsa as an affront to a symbol of Palestinian rights in an occupied city.
It has been another week of unrelenting bloodshed in Israel. A Jewish worshipper was stabbed this morning by two Palestinian attackers at a synagogue. The assailants were said to have tried to board a school bus prior to the stabbing.
“I believe people want this to de-escalate. So let’s go to work, and see what we can do,” he said.