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U.S. says Blinken stresses importance of status quo at Jerusalem holy sites -statement

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By Reuters
U.S. Blinken stresses importance of status quo at Jerusalem holy sites -statement
U.S. Blinken stresses importance of status quo at Jerusalem holy sites -statement   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

WASHINGTON -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed recent violence in Israel and the West Bank with his Jordanian counterpart and stressed the importance of maintaining the status quo at Jerusalem holy sites, the State Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Secretary Blinken emphasized the importance of upholding the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, and appreciation for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s special role as custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem,” spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Blinken and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Monday also discussed the importance of Israelis and Palestinians working to end the violence and refrain from escalatory actions, he said.

Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Monday that Israel’s “unilateral” moves against Muslim worshippers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque seriously undermined the prospects for peace in the region, state media said.

The monarch, who was speaking with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, blamed Israel for “provocative acts” in the mosque compound that violated “the legal and historic status quo” of the Muslim holy shrines.

On Friday, at least 152 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli riot police inside the mosque compound, the latest outbreak in an upsurge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict.

King Abdullah’s Hashemite monarchy has been custodian of the sites since 1924, paying for their upkeep and deriving part of its legitimacy from the role.

A number of U.S. officials engaged in phone calls with Israelis, Palestinians and Arab representatives in the region over the weekend to see to it that tensions in Jerusalem do not escalate, Price told reporters on Monday.

Tensions this year have been heightened in part by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan coinciding with the Jewish celebration of Passover.