WASHINGTON — Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special envoy for international relations, is headed to Israel in a bid to help reduce tensions as Jerusalem’s Temple Mount remains a flash point and after a Palestinian terrorist killed three Israelis in a stabbing attack.
“President Trump and his administration are closely following unfolding events in the region,” a senior administration official told JTA on Sunday night, speaking on condition of anonymity and reporting Greenblatt’s departure.
“The United States utterly condemns the recent terrorist violence including the horrific attack Friday night that killed three people at their Shabbat dinner table in Halamish and sends condolences to the families of the innocent victims,” the official said. “We are engaged in discussions with the relevant parties and are committed to finding a resolution to the ongoing security issues.”
Greenblatt would closely coordinate with the National Security Council and with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who is a top aide and is charged with renewing Israeli Palestinian peace talks, the official said.
Yosef Salomon, 70, and his children Chaya Salomon, 46, and Elad Salomon, 36, were killed and Yosef Salomon’s wife, Tovah, 68, was injured when Palestinian attacker Omar al-Abed, 19, from the nearby Palestinian village of Kobar, entered the home in the West Bank settlement of Halamish and began stabbing the family members, who had gathered at the Salomon home to celebrate the birth of a baby to another of the senior Salomon’s sons.
Thousands attended the funerals on Sunday afternoon at the cemetery in the central Israel city of Modiin.
The area around the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and also the location of the Haram A-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam, has been riven with tensions since June 14 when three Arab-Israelis shot and killed two Israeli police officers at the holy site.
Israeli authorities installed metal detectors at the site in the wake of the attack and since then, Muslims have refused to enter the Temple Mount, instead praying outside of its gates, leading to clashes and the deaths of at least 5 Palestinians in recent days.
Elsewhere, for the second time in less than a week, protesters demonstrated against Israel outside a synagogue in Istanbul, responding to the Temple Mount incident.
The latest incident reported in the Turkish media occurred on Saturday outside the Ahrida Synagogue on the European side of the Turkish capital, in the north of the neighborhood of Fatih, which is a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements in Turkey.
On Thursday, July 20, protesters showed up at the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul, where they kicked the front door and hurled objects at it. Leaders of Turkish Jews condemned the targeting of synagogues to protest Israel’s actions.
And in Amman, Jordan, an Israeli Embassy guard killed his Jordanian assailant and a bystander after being stabbed in the chest with a screwdriver. The Foreign Ministry told Israeli media that it considers the incident to be a terror attack and related to the Temple Mount crisis.
Jordanian police are demanding to question the guard in the incident, which occurred on Sunday evening, while relatives of the stabber, a 17-year-old who had entered the residential building used by the Israeli embassy in order to install some furniture, are calling for the death penalty for the guard.