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Israeli police clash with Palestinians in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

State Department officials spoke to their Israeli and Palestinian counterparts on Friday night and asked them to de-escalate the situation in Jerusalem and the West Bank, U.S. and Israeli officials said.

Why it matters: This is the first crisis between Israel and the Palestinians the Biden administration faces as it reengages with the Palestinians after a long freeze in the relations during the Trump presidency.

  • The rise in tensions comes in the most sensitive time on the calendar – the last days of Ramadan.

Driving the news: In recent days the tensions grew in Jerusalem over a possible eviction of 300 Palestinians from homes they lived in for more than 50 years in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

  • In the last week several terror attacks were committed by Palestinians against Israeli settlers and soldiers in the West Bank. One Israeli was murdered and another seriously wounded.
  • In recent weeks Israeli settlers committed what is called “Price tag” attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli right wing activists attacked Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
  • The tensions reached its height on Friday evening when Israelis police clashed with Palestinian worshipers in the old city of Jerusalem and in the Temple Mount where the Al-Aqsa mosque is located. 20 Israeli policemen and more than 200 Palestinians were wounded.
  • State Department officials were in contact with senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders and urged them to work cooperatively together to lower tensions and end the violence, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

What they are saying: “It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount – in word and in practice. Leaders across the spectrum must denounce all violent acts. Security services must ensure the safety of all of Jerusalem’s residents and hold all perpetrators to account," Price said.

  • Palestinian Authority president Abbas said on Friday night Israelis responsible for the escalation and called for the international community to protect the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.
  • Israeli prime minister Netanyahu said after a security meeting he convened on Saturday that Israel will uphold the rule of law in Jerusalem while protecting the freedom of worship in Jerusalem.

The big picture: This escalation comes amid a deep political crisis in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In Israel there are intense talks of forming an alternative government. These efforts can be derailed because the new government needs the support of the Raam Islamist party.

  • On the other side, Abbas faces harsh criticism for postponing the elections fearing his party would lose. Abbas is trying to use the current crisis in Jerusalem to divert the popular anger against him towards Israel.

What’s next: The Palestinians are trying to convene the UN security council in the coming days to discuss the situation in Jerusalem.

Go deeper

May 8, 2021 - World

Over 170 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem

An injured man is carried away as Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

At least 178 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, Reuters reported late Friday.

The big picture: The clashes come amid growing anger over the threatened eviction of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Tensions have also escalated in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.

What happens now that emergency orders are lifting

Expand chart
Data: National Academy for State Health Policy and various governor declarations; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Soon, more than half the states will have ended their formal emergency declarations for the pandemic — which could have a ripple of effects across the economy.

Why it matters: Lifting those orders will allow businesses to serve more customers, but will also end certain safety nets, including expanded food and housing assistance, as well as eviction protections.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

500 Hong Kong police officers raid pro-democracy newspaper

Chief Operations Officer Chow Tat Kuen (front 2nd R) is escorted by police from the Apple Daily newspaper offices before being put into a waiting vehicle in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong's Apple Daily said 500 police officers searched the pro-democracy newspaper's offices and arrested five senior executives on Thursday.

Why it matters: The arrests of the paper's chief editor, Ryan Law, along with its chief operating officer, two other editors and the CEO of Next Digital, which operates Apple Daily, were made under China's national security law — which gives the government broad power to limit people's political freedom.