Washington, Oct 17: US President Barack Obama has expressed his concern over the recent spate of violence in Jerusalem, with Secretary of State John Kerry calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to calm down the situation.
"We are very concerned about the outbreak of violence that initially is centered on Jerusalem, but we always are concerned about the spread of violence elsewhere," Obama told reporters at a White House news conference yesterday.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms violence directed against innocent people, and believe that Israel has a right to maintain basic law and order, and protect its citizens from knife attacks and violence on the streets," he said.
Obama said it's important for both Netanyahu, Israeli elected officials and Abbas and other people in positions of power to try to tamp down rhetoric that may feed violence or anger or misunderstanding, and try to get all people in Israel and West Bank to recognise that this kind of random violence isn't going to result in anything other than more hardship and more insecurity.
J"I don't think we can wait for all the issues that exist between Israelis and Palestinians to be settled in order for us to try to tamp down the violence right now. "I think my views are well known that, over time, the only way that Israel is going to be truly secure and the only way that the Palestinians are going to be able to meet the aspirations of their people is if there are two states living side by side in peace and security," Obama said.
During the calls, Kerry offered his support for efforts to restore calm as soon as possible, a State Department statement said. In his call with Netanyahu, Kerry reiterated his strong condemnation of terrorist attacks against innocent civilians and support for Israel's right to defend its citizens.
"The Secretary made clear that he will continue to follow the situation closely and that the US will remain engaged in efforts to restore calm.
"They also discussed plans for a meeting in Europe in the near future," the State Department said in a read out of the call with the Israeli Prime Minister. In his call with Abbas, Kerry reiterated the importance of avoiding further violence and preventing inflammatory rhetoric, accusations and actions that will increase tensions.
"He made clear that he will continue to follow the situation closely and that the US will remain engaged in efforts to restore calm," the statement said. Kerry said that he hoped to visit the region at the appropriate moment. He is expected to meet Netanyahu in Germany next week, State Department Deputy Spokesman, the Department said.