U.S. State Department unclear on Israeli intentions for Temple Mount

Netanyahu has repeatedly called that accusation a “gross” and “dangerous lie.” But pressed on the matter, State Department officials echoed Abbas’ concerns, suggesting they believe Israel’s policy leaves open the possibility of change at the site.

Detailing a Saturday call by US Secretary of State John Kerry, deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the secretary told Netanyahu to uphold the site’s historic status quo “in word and in deed.” And asked what Israel should be doing to reduce tensions, Toner replied: “For one thing, upholding the status quo on Haram al-Sharif–Temple Mount.”

He declined to attribute blame for the crisis to one side or another, and said that Kerry’s call against incitement was intended for both leaders.

“Both sides need to decrease tensions,” Toner said.

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