Israel tells US its statements on Jerusalem riots aren’t helping

It would be better if the pressure were directed at the instigators of the Arab rioting instead, National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat told his American counterpart.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

American demands that Israel de-escalate the tensions in Jerusalem caused by Arab violence are a “reward” to the rioters, National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat told his American counterpart in a phone call Sunday.

According to a senior Israeli official who was involved in the conversation and spoke to Walla News, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told Ben Shabbat that Israel must take the lead in calming the situation in the capital and desist from evicting several Palestinian families illegally squatting in Jewish-owned homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Ben Shabbat replied, “Israel is dealing with the events from its position of sovereignty, responsibly and with discretion, despite the provocations.”

American and other pressure is being directed at the wrong party, Ben Shabbat added.

“International intervention is a reward for the rioters and those who send them who hoped to put pressure on Israel,” and it would be much more helpful if that pressure was brought to bear instead on the instigators and channels of incitement, he said.

Hundreds of Arabs have been rioting for days on the Temple Mount and the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood where they are trying to overturn a legal decision regarding ownership rights of several houses by means of force.

On the Temple Mount Monday morning, dozens threw rocks and fireworks toward the southern side’s Ophel Gate, while hundreds more threw stones from the Mughrabi Gate that overlooks the Western Wall. Police entered to disperse the riots, with the Red Crescent reporting 180 injuries from the clashes.

On Sunday night, several Jewish passersby were hurt by rock and bottle-throwing demonstrators on Mount Scopus, near Sheikh Jarrah, with three taken to a hospital for head injuries. Three police officers trying to disperse the crowds were also lightly hurt.

Earlier, the White House released a statement saying that Sullivan had expressed the Americans’ “serious concerns” about both the potential evictions and “the situation in Jerusalem, including violent confrontations at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount during the last days of Ramadan.”

The statement was more even-handed in its criticism than other international actors, especially Arab ones such as Jordan, which on Sunday called in the Israeli ambassador to lambast Israel over its “barbaric” attacks on worshipers.

The U.S. statement also condemned Hamas attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Gazan terrorists had launched another rocket at southern Israel Sunday, causing no damage. Their arson balloons were more successful, with Israeli firefighters being called to the scene of dozens of fires set off by the incendiary devices.

Senior U.S. officials are speaking with the various sides “to ensure calm, deescalate tensions, and denounce violence,” according to the White House statement.