Photo Credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO
President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the White House, August 27, 2021.

US President Joe Biden has accepted an invitation from Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to visit the State of Israel.

Biden spoke with Bennett by phone on Sunday “to discuss shared regional and global security challenges, including the threat posed by Iran and its proxies,” said a readout of the call posted by the White House.

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“The two leaders emphasized the strong personal bond they have developed since the prime minister’s visit to Washington last summer,” the readout continued.

“This personal relationship has animated the work of our diplomatic and national security teams, enabling both countries to arrive at common positions on difficult matters.”

The White House said that Biden “welcomed” the visit to Washington this week by Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata, and “also accepted an invitation to visit Israel over the coming months.”

In addition, the White House said Biden “took note of ongoing efforts between Israeli and Palestinian officials to lower tensions and ensure a peaceful conclusion to the holy season of Ramadan.”

The Israeli prime minister is facing increasing pressure over rising consumer prices and deteriorating security conditions in the state, including recently resumed rocket attacks aimed at southern Israel by Gaza terrorists.

It’s also not clear what “ongoing efforts between Israeli and Palestinian officials” the president was referring to regarding the lowering of tensions and “ensuring a peaceful conclusion” to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

On Friday (April 22), Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas called on the Biden administration to “immediately intervene and urgently assume its responsibilities in the face of the Israeli measures in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in occupied Jerusalem,” according to a report published by the Palestinian Authority’s official mouthpiece, the WAFA news agency.

During a meeting with the Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Yael Lambert, and Hadi Amr, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, held at Abbas’s office in Ramallah, Abbas stressed the need for an immediate cessation of Israeli attacks and for full respect for the legal and historical status quo in Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, holding the Israeli occupation government fully responsible for the deterioration of the situation.”

The “deterioration” Abbas referred to was related to the daily violence by “worshipers” who were stockpiling rocks, fireworks and Molotov cocktails inside the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Compound for use as weapons against Israeli civilians praying peacefully at the nearby Western Wall, and against police protecting visitors to the site.

The so-called “Israeli attacks” were a reference to Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount that took place within the bare three-hour period allocated each day during Passover. Immediately following the end of the Jewish holiday of freedom, Jews were banned from the site “until further notice” by the Israeli government.

Two days earlier, Abbas was quoted as having briefed UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland on “the brutal Israeli assaults against worshipers” at the Temple Mount compound – referred to as the “mosque compound” – and “across the occupied territories as well as on daily settler encroachments upon the religious landmark.”

The news outlet added Abbas maintained that “such assaults and encroachments violate the historical and legal status of the occupied city,” with obvious disregard for the thousands of years of Jewish history to the contrary.

Given the brazen incitement spewed by Abbas, it’s not clear exactly which “efforts” the Palestinian Authority leadership was making to “lower tensions” and ensure a “peaceful conclusion” to Ramadan.

It’s also not clear what Wennesland had in mind when, as reported by WAFA, he promised UN Secretary-General António Guterres “would pursue his efforts and contacts to stop the escalation and the UN Secretary Council would hold an open-ended session on the situation in Palestine on Monday, April 25.”

Peacemaking?

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.