US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to visit Israeli and Palestinian leaders next week in a bid to halt ongoing violence, but a senior American official has said the meeting is not aimed at brokering a peace accord.
According to the State Department, Kerry would travel to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah on Tuesday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.
“We’re trying to encourage both of them to do the kind of things we think will be helpful and in their interests,” said a senior US official on Saturday in an anonymous briefing to reporters before the trip.
“There’s no agreement to be reached between the parties right now,” the official said, adding that “we want to see bigger changes on the ground to stabilize the situation in a more sustainable way.”
Tensions have been on the rise between Israelis and Palestinians in recent months after Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Washington has called on both sides to take “concrete steps” in order to reduce tension, end provocative rhetoric and make it possible for Palestinians to visit Jerusalem holy sites.
Up until two years ago, the United States was the leading mediator in peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, however, that process collapsed with US officials saying they do not intend to revive it, but rather are simply attempting to reduce the current outbreak of violence.
Earlier this month, Kerry met Netanyahu in Washington and asked him to “improve conditions for the Palestinians and try to get things moving in a more positive direction.”
But, according to the US official, “nothing concrete has come out of that yet” and that the two officials exchanged a “variety of ideas” without getting into specifics.
In October, Kerry met Jordan’s King Hussein in Amman over a plan to install security cameras around the al-Aqsa mosque.
Although Netanyahu agreed with the plan, the Jordanian-run trust or “Waqf,” which administers the site, complained that Israeli police had prevented them from installing the cameras.
The US official said “they are having meetings of technical teams, the Israelis and the Waqf, about the logistics,” adding, “so I think that’s proceeding exactly as we intended.”
Following Israeli imposition of restrictions on the entry into the al-Aqsa Mosque in August, Palestinians have been saying that the Tel Aviv seeks to change the status quo of al-Aqsa.
They are also angry at Israeli extremists, who have stepped up their raids on the sensitive site, which is Islam’s third holiest site after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.
By Press TV