Middle East Eye / May 10, 2021
Israel’s national security adviser told his US counterpart that Israel would handle events ‘from a position of sovereignty’.
Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat has told his US counterpart, Jake Sullivan, to stay out of the Jerusalem crisis, Axios reported, citing an Israeli official. Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured as Israeli security services continue to crack down on demonstrations.
The two national security advisers spoke over the phone on Sunday, during which Sullivan raised “serious concerns” over the threat of eviction for Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.
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”, the Israeli official told Axios.
The official added that Ben-Shabbat told Sullivan that Israel would be handling events “from a position of sovereignty and responsibility regardless of Palestinian provocations”.
In a readout of the call, the US national security adviser stressed Washington’s “commitment to Israel’s security and to supporting peace and stability throughout the Middle East” and that it would be engaged to promote calm in Jerusalem.
On Monday morning, Israeli security forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, and used rubber bullets and tear gas against Palestinian protesters and worshippers.
At least 215 Palestinians were injured and 153 others hospitalised, including four in a critical condition, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
The scenes have taken place against the backdrop of the planned eviction of 40 Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a plan which has enflamed tensions and provoked international condemnation.
The violence towards Palestinians over the past week has also prompted condemnation from a number of vocal figures within US President Joe Biden’s own party, including House members Marie Newman, Cori Bush, Chuy Garcia, Mark Pocan, Rashida Tlaib, Andre Carson, Betty McCollum, Debbie Dingell, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
While the US response has been relatively mild, with both the White House and State Department issuing “concerns” over the planned evictions without condemning them, the Biden administration has been more critical of Israel than the former Trump administration.
Still, Washington’s “bothsidesism”, blaming both Palestinians and Israeli forces for the violence, has been met with criticism from pro-Palestinian groups and activists, who say it “equalises the victim and the oppressor”.