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US calls on Israelis, Palestinians to ‘deescalate’ tensions

Washington – The United States called yesterday for de-escalation in annexed east Jerusalem, and warned against carrying out a threatened eviction of Palestinian families that has sent tensions soaring.

“The United States is extremely concerned about ongoing confrontations in Jerusalem… which have reportedly resulted in scores of injured people,” a statement from State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“There is no excuse for violence, but such bloodshed is especially disturbing now, coming as it does on the last days of Ramadan.”

He said Washington was calling on Israeli and Palestinian officials to “act decisively to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence.”

And he warned it was “critical” to avoid any steps that could worsen the situation  —  such as “evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism.”

An earlier State Department statement said Washington was concerned in particular about the “potential eviction of Palestinian families in Silwan neighbourhood and Sheikh Jarrah,” two areas of east Jerusalem where tensions have been running high.

It noted that some Palestinian families targeted for eviction have “lived in their home for generations.”

The comments came as more than 160 people were wounded after Israeli riot police clashed with Palestinians at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound late yesterday, capping a week of violence in the Holy City and the occupied West Bank.

Earlier yesterday, Israeli security forces killed two Palestinians and wounded a third after the trio opened fire on a base in the occupied West Bank, police said.

The unrest came on Al-Quds Day — named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem  —  an annual day of pro-Palestinian rallies held by Iran, the arch-enemy of Israel.

The nation’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Israel “not a country, but a terrorist base,” and in a televised speech said that fighting the Jewish state was “everyone’s duty.” — AFP

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