Antony Blinken promises to protect Jerusalem ‘status quo’

US secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday that Jerusalem “must be a city for all, and the status quo of its holy sites must be preserved”.

In a letter to the Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, Blinken stated the Biden administration’s public vision for Jerusalem as a “rich and plural city and society” that is “central to the national visions of both Palestinians and Israelis”.

He thanked Theophilos III for his letter to US president Biden earlier this summer, which rang the alarm over extremist Jewish forces escalating tensions and disrupting prayer in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter.

“Promoting freedom, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians, on an equal footing, is also a key component of this administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he went on to say.

“The United States, under the leadership of President Biden, believes that pushing forward with these values ​​​is an important step toward maintaining a negotiated two-state solution, on the 1967 borders with territorial amendments.”

However, Blinken did not make any reference to plans to reverse the US decision to move their embassy in Israeli to Jerusalem, which sparked anger across Palestinian society as a whole.

Religious freedoms have been under increasing threat in Jerusalem as extremist settlers backed by right-wing Israeli politicians have moved into Christian and Muslim quarters, attacking Palestinians.

In May, members of the US Congress voiced concern to Secretary of State Antony Blinken over the treatment of Palestinian Christians, citing several incidents of arson and vandalism.

And earlier in the summer, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed Pope Francis of increased attacks on Christian and Muslim sites in occupied East Jerusalem, particularly the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Palestinian Muslims are also frequently the target of intimidation, forced expulsion, and violence at the hands of Israeli extremists in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, which has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.

During Ramadan this year, Israeli extremists and security systematically stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound, the third-holiest site in all Islam and most sacred Muslim place in Palestine.

Dozens of Palestinians were injured this year as security forces assaulted worshipers at the mosque.

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