U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Thomas Nides, praised the Jewish state’s government on Tuesday, and said it deserves “a lot of credit” for its handling of the complex and challenging recent Jerusalem tensions during the Jewish Passover and the Muslim Ramadan holidays.
“I think things went pretty well,” summarized Nides during an event hosted by the Atlantic Council.
Referring to the Israeli government’s handling of the complex tensions, the American ambassador admitted “it wasn’t perfect” but concluded he felt “really good about” how the Jewish state’s leadership navigated through the religious and political tensions on and around the Temple Mount.
The American ambassador, who invested a lot of time and effort talking to Israeli and Arab leaders in the region, admitted that Washington was concerned with the potential outcome of the tensions.
“We were pretty nervous,” said Nides, stating that the U.S. government strives “to try to keep things on the Temple Mount calm.”
Nides also credited the reduction of tensions in Jerusalem to the efforts of Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr.
The Israeli government attempted to lower the flames by temporarily ban Jews and other non-Muslims from visiting the Temple Mount until the end of the Ramadan. However, the Temple Mount was expected to reopen for Jewish visitors on Israeli Independence Day.
Meanwhile, Abdel Latif Al-Qanou, a spokesperson for the Hamas terrorist organization, issued a threat, saying that Jewish visits to the Temple Mount would be a “detonator for a new confrontation” with the Jewish state. Al-Qanou further urged Arabs throughout the region to “confront” Jews visiting to the Temple Mount, which is the most sacred site in Judaism.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist, has increased its efforts to undermine the rule of it's rival Fatah, in the West Bank, by encouraging and instigating terror and violence against Israeli targets. Hamas has used Temple Mount tensions as a powerful tool to increase its influence among the Muslim population in Jerusalem and in the West Bank.
Hamas recently claimed responsibility for the murder of an Israeli security guard outside the Jewish city Ariel in Samaria.
“We declare our full responsibility for the Salfit (Arab town close to Ariel) operation that took place last Friday, and we affirm that it is a link in the chain of al-Qassam's responses to the aggression on al-Aqsa,” declared Hamas, warning that the latest terror attack “won’t be the last.”
Turning to the recent Russian-Israeli political tensions, Nides, who is Jewish, commented on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s controversial statement that the Nazi leader Hitler “had Jewish blood” and that “some of the worst anti-Semites are Jews.”
“It sounds like a guy who’s losing the war. It was so outrageously stupid… What Russia has done has set Russia back in my humble view, not only with Israel, but [with] the world for 30 years,” stated Nides.
The Russian foreign minister’s controversial statement has resulted in dramatically deteriorating diplomatic ties between Russia and Israel.
While the Israeli government has demanded an apology from Russia for Lavrov’s inflammatory statement, Jerusalem does not believe the Kremlin will apologize. Israel’s assessment has so far been correct. Instead of apologizing and rebuking Lavrov, Russia escalated tensions with Israel by accusing the Jewish state of supporting “neo-Nazis” in Ukraine. Russia has justified its invasion by claiming it seek to “denazify” Ukraine, which is led by the pro-Western and Jewish President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Israeli government and the Israeli military are currently assessing whether the political tensions between Moscow and Jerusalem could affect the Israel Air Force’s freedom of action against Iranian targets in Russian-dominated Syria.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.