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Israel is pushing President Joe Biden to refrain from involving the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying Biden’s meddling would likely make the situation worse.
Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat, after hundreds of Palestinian rioters clashed with Israeli police Monday morning on the Temple Mount. During the conversation, Ben-Shabbat told Sullivan that Biden and other countries should let Israel handle the conflict, according to Axios.
Ben-Shabbat told Sullivan that “international intervention is a reward to the Palestinian rioters and those who back them who were seeking international pressure on Israel,” an Israeli official told Axios.
The Biden White House left off any mention Ben-Shabbat’s reported comment in its own readout of the phone call. According to the White House, Sullivan expressed concern over the violence and highlighted U.S. officials’ work with “senior Israeli and Palestinian officials and key regional stakeholders to press for steps to ensure calm, deescalate tensions, and denounce violence.”
Palestinian rioters hurled stones and firebombs at police on Monday morning at the Temple Mount. Police moved to suppress the unrest with stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets. Previous concerns over unrest had already prompted authorities to close the area to Jews before the violence began, according to Israeli National News.
“A short time ago, hundreds of rioters began throwing stones at the Mughrabi Bridge. Following this, police commission Yaakov Shabti ordered police forces stationed at the scene to enter the Temple Mount and to push the rioters back, using crowd dispersal methods. Israel Police forces are continuing to operate at the scene,” an Israeli police spokesperson said.
Twenty-one officers were hurt, including three who were hospitalized because of the violence, according to The Associated Press. Hundreds of rioters also sustained injuries.
Israel had a strained relationship with the United States during former President Barack Obama’s administration, in which Biden served as vice president. The Obama administration often leaked information it received on and from the Israeli military in attempts to dictate the smaller country’s actions. The Biden administration appears primed to continue that tactic.
During his campaign for president, Biden pledged to roll back Trump-era policies and take a much more pro-Palestinian view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During a May 2020 interview with Israeli media, Biden stated: “A priority now for the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace should be resuming our dialogue with the Palestinians and pressing Israel not to take actions that make a two-state solution impossible. I will reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, find a way to reopen the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington, and resume the decades-long economic and security assistance efforts to the Palestinians that the Trump Administration stopped.”
Decades ago in 1982, Biden took an aggressive stance toward Israel while berating then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin about his country building settlements in Judea and Samaria. Then-Sen. Biden threatened to cut off U.S. aid to Israel. Begin hit back:
Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid.