WASHINGTON (JTA) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a joint meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is unlikely.
“I’ve talked to President Abbas and I’ve talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu in the last few days, and we could meet if we chose to,” Kerry said Tuesday, answering reporters’ questions at a climate change conference. “But I think it’s not – that meeting together in the same country is not – this is not the moment, obviously.”
A sharp increase in Palestinian attacks on Israelis in recent weeks has killed eight Israelis, an Eritrean refugee and nearly 50 Palestinians, as tensions swirl around claims to the Temple Mount, the Jerusalem site holy to Muslims and Jews and known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.
There had been reported discussions of setting up a possible meeting between Abbas, Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah, who is responsible for the Muslim supervision of the site, as a means of tamping down tensions.
Kerry said he would meet separately with the leaders during his forthcoming tour of Europe and the Middle East.
“I’ll be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu either in Germany or in the region, and I will be meeting with President Abbas and meeting with King Abdullah and others,” he said Tuesday. “And we will go back to some very basics here with respect to what the expectations are for the administration and the Haram al-Sharif and the Temple Mount, and hopefully begin to open up enough political space to begin to move on some other areas.”