Netanyahu Gives Kerry Conditions for Aiding Palestinians
©2015 Bloomberg News
(Bloomberg) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the wave of attacks by Palestinians must subside before his government agrees to take steps to improve conditions in the West Bank.
Netanyahu, who has blamed incitement by Palestinian leaders for the almost-daily assaults, said allegations that Israel is planning changes at a Jerusalem shrine sacred to Muslims and Jews must stop, according to a government official who isn’t authorized to comment publicly. The prime minister also told Kerry that if the U.S. wants him to allow the Palestinians to build infrastructure, it should accept his government’s right to build quality-of-life projects in Israel’s larger West Bank settlements.
Arab fears that Israel plans to change understandings governing worship at the shrine, despite Netanyahu’s pledges to the contrary, have fanned the latest violence.
The U.S., along with most of the international community, has opposed Israeli settlement construction, saying it hinders any chance to reach a final agreement that would establish a Palestinian state. The latest peace talks collapsed last year.
Kerry’s visit to Israel and the West Bank comes after attacks by Palestinians since Oct. 1 have left 18 Israelis, one American teenager and an Eritrean man dead. About 90 Palestinians have been killed in that period, most shot by Israeli forces while trying to carry out attacks.
‘Onslaught of Terror’
“There can be no peace when we have an onslaught of terror –- not here or not anywhere else in the world,” Netanyahu told reporters before meeting Kerry in Jerusalem.
“Clearly, no people anywhere should live with daily violence, with attacks in the streets, with knives or scissors or cars,” Kerry said. “So I’m here today to talk with the prime minister about the ways that we can work together, all of us –- the international community –- to push back against terrorism, to push back against senseless violence and to find a way forward,” he said.
Kerry also traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah where he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for two hours, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. Abbas gave the U.S. diplomat a series of files, including a review of Palestinians killed by Israelis over the past two months and a report on new construction in Jewish settlements, Wafa said.
–With assistance from Jonathan Ferziger and Fadwa Hodali.
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