PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US Senators on Tuesday night (Scott Applewhite/AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the status of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount complex, including the al-Aqsa Mosque, cannot be resolved between Israel and Palestine.
Netanyahu told the Center for American Progress in Washington on Tuesday, “Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, it’s insoluble. I just do not see right now a solution for that. It has to remain under Israeli sovereignty — that is the only way to prevent this from exploding into a secretarial strife.”
Concerns over Jewish access to Temple Mount, including the possibility that a ban on prayer would be lifted, were a catalyst for Palestinian demonstrations and subsequent violence from early October. More than 70 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces last month, while ten Israelis were slain by Palestinian assailants, mainly by stabbing.
On Tuesday, Israeli forces killed one Palestinian and wounded another. A 16-year-old, Sadeq Ziad Gharbiyeh, was slain after he reportedly tried to stab a border guard, while the wounded man “lunged at people with a knife” in an Israeli settlement.
In his question-and-answer session at the Center for American Progress, Netanyahu repeated demands for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and for an Israeli “long-term security presence” in the West Bank, but he said this “right formula” for a peace deal was unlikely to happen in the immediate future.
Netanyahu also met leaders of the US Senate for an hour on Tuesday night, putting Israel’s case for an increase in American military aid.
On Monday, the Israeli Prime Minister asked President Obama to authorize the increase, reportedly from $3 billion per year to $5 billion.
Netanyahu will continue discussions with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday.