Kerry Urges Netanyahu and Abbas to Exercise Restraint



U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in China on Wednesday but that did not stop him from engaging with Mideast leaders and others in a bid to halt escalating Israeli-Palestinian Arab violence, according to AFP.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Kerry had asked both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to exercise restraint.

“Secretary Kerry spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning, and he plans to speak with President Abbas over the next 24 hours,” she told reporters in Washington.

It was Kerry’s third call with Netanyahu since Friday, noted AFP.

The top U.S. diplomat has also spoken by phone with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well as Qatar’s foreign minister, as part of what Psaki described as Kerry’s “reaching out and having a discussion about the path forward with these regional leaders.”

The White House’s coordinator for the Middle East, Philip Gordon, was in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority Wednesday, meeting with Abbas and Israeli officials, while Kerry was been phoning world leaders “as we continue to evaluate the situation and look for ways to stop the rocket attacks,” Psaki added.

“It’s important at this point in time to see if all sides can take steps to de-escalate,” she said, according to AFP, and added that Kerry would bring the same message to Abbas.

“President Abbas has condemned a range of the attacks, as well as the recent tragic events with the three Israeli teenagers, and the secretary will simply have a discussion about the path forward,” Psaki said, referring to the kidnap and murder of three Israeli youths.

Psaki said Washington remained deeply concerned about civilian casualties, and that Kerry was calling on the two sides to restore the 2012 ceasefire as soon as possible.

Earlier this week, the United States also condemned the rocket fire by Hamas against Israel, but back then too, called on Israel to “act with restraint” in its response.

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Washington strongly condemns the incessant rocket fire from Gaza and reiterated U.S. support for Israel’s right to self-defense.


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