The US Secretary of State has called Jordan's Foreign Minister after the country's Prime Minister criticised Israel's violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem over the past week, which Tel Aviv interpreted as encouraging supposed militant behaviour.
According to a statement released by the US State Department, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, yesterday made a telephone call to Jordanian Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, and "discussed the importance of Israelis and Palestinians working to end the cycle of violence by refraining from actions and rhetoric that further escalate tensions".
It came after Jordan's Prime Minister, Bisher Al Khasawneh, on Monday condemned Israeli forces' and Jewish worshippers' conducting of raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound over the past week, in which – as is usually the case during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan – dozens of Palestinians have been assaulted and arrested at the site.
Addressing Jordan's Parliament, Khasawneh hailed protestors against Israeli aggression and "those throwing their stones at all of those Zionists who desecrate Al Aqsa Mosque with the protection of the Israeli occupation government". Following that, his Israeli counterpart, Naftali Bennett, condemned his remarks, saying that it "serves as a prize for the inciters, chief most Hamas, who are trying to ignite violence here in Jerusalem".
Blinken's call with Safadi is seen as an attempt to calm the tension between Tel Aviv and Amman – both of which usually refrain from targeting each other – and maintaining its support for both US allies in the region.
It comes particularly at a time when Jordan and its King Abdullah bin Hussein, officially owning and managing the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, has seemed to become increasingly vocal of Israeli violations over the years. There are also significant concerns that Israel is attempting to gradually oust Jordan's guardianship of the site, with the aim of capturing it.
In the call, Blinken assured Safadi and the government that "the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan's special role as custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem" is appreciated by him and the US. The State Department also reiterated in its statement that the current status quo in Jerusalem must be maintained.