ANKARA (AA) – US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, said Sunday he received assurances that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will preserve the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
Nides said he was not “supportive” of the visit by Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Jan. 3 to the Al-Aqsa complex. The visit has drawn a storm of condemnations from across the world amid warnings of unrest.
“We care deeply about preserving a two-state solution. And he [Netanyahu] understands annexation, or even pseudo-annexation by lining up all the outposts, that [those things] don’t work for us,” he told The Times of Israel newspaper.
The status quo allows Muslims to worship at the Al-Aqsa complex and followers of other religions to visit the site.
The US diplomat said he is confident that the Israeli government would be willing to go along with the measures US President Joe Biden promoted to boost the Palestinian economy.
Netanyahu “told us he took down a lot of the checkpoints. I think he believes in [a] strong economy for the Palestinians,” he added.
On Wednesday, National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan visited the region and met with Palestinian and Israeli officials. Sullivan underlined the US support for the two-state solution and the rejection of any unilateral steps by Israel.
Israeli and Palestinian estimates indicate that about 650,000 settlers are living in 164 settlements and 116 outposts in the West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements in occupied territories are considered illegal.