Israeli FM urges int help for restoring peace in E. Jerusalem

Leader of the Yesh Atid opposition centrist political party Yair Lapid holds a press conference. Photo: Ilia Yefimovich/dpa/IANS

Jerusalem, April 20 (IANS) Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called for international help in restoring calm in East Jerusalem during a phone talk with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken over the rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

The two on Tuesday discussed the recent wave of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, mainly around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem, where some 200 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police since Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I emphasised the need for international support for returning calm to Jerusalem,” Lapid tweeted after talking on the phone with Blinken.

He reiterated Israel’s stand that the Israeli police raids at the flashpoint holy site were “responsible and measured efforts in the face of riots by hundreds of Islamic extremists.”

“Israel will not tolerate calls in support of violence,” Lapid added.

The phone talk came a day after Blinken discussed the violence in East Jerusalem with Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. Blinken stressed the importance of maintaining the status quo, according to a statement issued by the US State Department.

The disputed holy site, known to Muslims as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and to Jews as the Temple Mount, is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East war. The site has been administered by Jordan’s Muslim Waqf but secured by the Israeli police.

The Israeli-Palestinian clashes in East Jerusalem, as well as four deadly Palestinian attacks in Israeli cities in recent weeks, came as the holy Muslim month of Ramadan coincided with the Jewish holiday of Passover, with thousands of Muslim worshipers and Jewish visitors arriving at the hilltop compound and the Western Wall, located just below it.

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