Attacks in Israel came as leaders focused on possible violence in Jerusalem
The wave of terror attacks inside Israel came as the U.S., Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority were all focused on a different issue: preventing potential escalation in Jerusalem next month during Ramadan and the Passover and Easter holidays.
Driving the news: One of the primary goals of Secretary of State Tony Blinken’s trip to the region was to remind both Israelis and Palestinians of the need to avoid provocative actions, a message he reiterated in every meeting in Jerusalem and Ramallah, U.S. officials say.
- Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz briefed Blinken on the measures they were planning to take ahead of Ramadan and the Jewish and Christian holidays in order to reduce tensions.
- After his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, Blinken said, “We’ll work to prevent actions by either side that could raise tensions. We also emphasized the imperative of having a peaceful Ramadan, Easter, Passover — all of which come together in a month’s time."
- Between the lines: Passover, Ramadan and Easter will all overlap in April, for the first time in 10 years. That increases the potential for violence in Jerusalem as tens of thousands of people converge on the Old City for the holidays.
Another key player in trying to lower tensions is King Abdullah II of Jordan, who traveled to Ramallah on Monday for the first time since 2017 to meet Abbas.
- That meeting, which came a day after Abbas met Blinken, focused on the need to maintain calm during Ramadan, the Royal Court said in a statement.
- On Tuesday, King Abdullah met Gantz in Amman to coordinate ahead of Ramadan.
- That was also a primary topic today when King Abdullah hosted Israeli President Isaac Herzog at his palace. That visit was unusual in that it was announced in advance and treated by the Jordanians almost as a state visit, something that hasn’t happened for many years.
What to watch: For now, Jerusalem and the West Bank are relatively calm.
- Israeli officials worry that the latest wave of attacks could cause further escalation. But they have not canceled plans to allow more Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to travel to Israel to visit family during Ramadan.