U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke by phone on Sunday with his Israeli counterpart about violence that continued in East Jerusalem over the weekend, the White House said.
Sullivan told Israel’s Meir Ben-Shabbat the U.S. has “serious concerns,” including “violent confrontations at the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount during the last days of Ramadan,” according to a readout from National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne.
He also reiterated U.S. concerns about the potential evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood outside the Old City, Horne said in the readout.
Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected international criticism of policies that have sparked weeks of violence. He labeled the unrest as the work of extremists, and rejected what he said was mounting pressure to halt Jewish construction in the city.
In his discussion with Ben-Shabbat, Sullivan highlighted recent engagement by U.S. officials with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials and key regional stakeholders in a bid to ensure calm, de-escalate tensions, and denounce violence, Horne said.
The pair agreed that the launching of rocket attacks and incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel is unacceptable and must be condemned, the White House said.
Reuters reported that the United Nations Security Council will discuss rising tensions in East Jerusalem in a private session on Monday.
Also on Sunday, Jordan summoned the Israeli envoy to protest clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, over which Jordan has custodianship.
The holy city has seen its worst unrest in years since the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan more than three weeks ago.
Israeli restrictions on gathering at a traditional Ramadan meeting place outside the Old City touched off the tensions, but after they were lifted, protests were rekindled by the threatened evictions of Palestinians from longtime homes in the eastern sector of the city that Israel captured in 1967.
On Saturday, envoys from the Middle East Quartet of regional mediators issued a rare statement expressing “serious concern” about the possible evictions.
Sullivan’s call with Ben-Shabbat comes two days after U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price also commented on the ongoing confrontations in East Jerusalem.
“There is no excuse for violence, but such bloodshed is especially disturbing now, coming as it does on the last days of Ramadan,” Price said. “This includes Friday’s attack on Israeli soldiers and reciprocal ‘price tag’ attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, which we condemn in no uncertain terms.
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