Kerry says to meet on Israel-Palestinian unrest, Syria in Europe

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Kerry to Visit Mideast Amid Violent Clashes


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it was important that Israeli and Palestinian leaders clarify the status around Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound and agree on steps to calm unrest during talks this week.

Kerry will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Germany and separately with President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah at the end of the week to discuss ways to end the violence.

He also said he will hold a meeting this week in Europe with counterparts from Turkey,Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Russia to explore options for a political transition in Syria.

"I will be coming back in a few days and will meet with leaders from Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to work through real and tangible options that could perhaps reignite a political process and bring about a political transition in Syria," Kerry told a news conference in Madrid.

Kerry will travel back to Washington on Monday for talks at the White House before returning to Europe.

Daily attacks in Israel have sparked a sense of panic in violence triggered in part by Palestinians' anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on the al-Aqsa mosque, which is Islam's holiest site outside Saudi Arabia and also revered by Jews as the location of two destroyed biblical temples.

See photos of the recent violence:

7 PHOTOS
Violence in Israel and the West Bank escalates
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Kerry says to meet on Israel-Palestinian unrest, Syria in Europe
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 13: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout from the Israeli GPO, Ultra Orthodox ZAKA volunteers and security forces attend the scene of an attack at a bus stop in Malchei Yisrael Street on October 13, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. Multiple terror attacks have occurred in Jerusalem and central Israel leaving at least three Israelis dead and many others injured, escalating a monthlong wave of violence between Israel and the Palestinians. (Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)
Israeli Zaka volunteers carry a body following a shooting attack on a bus in an east Jerusalem Jewish settlement adjacent to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber on October 13, 2015. Two attackers opened fire on a bus while another assailant carried out a car and knife assault in Jerusalem, leaving two people dead and five wounded in two separate incidents, Israeli authorities said. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli Zaka volunteers carry the body of an Israeli victim following a Palestinian shooting attack on a bus in the east Jerusalem Jewish settlement of Armon Hanatsiv, adjacent to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber, on October 13, 2015. Two Palestinian attackers opened fire on a bus while another assailant carried out a car and knife assault in Jerusalem, leaving two people dead and five wounded in two separate incidents, Israeli authorities said. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli security forces inspect the scene after a Palestinian man drove into a bus stop and carried out a stabbing attack in a Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood on October 13, 2015. The Jerusalem attack came after a Palestinian stabbed and wounded a passerby north of Tel Aviv before being restrained by civilians in the area. AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN (Photo credit should read GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A masked Palestinian hurls rocks towards Israeli soldiers during clashes following the funeral of Mohammed Fares al-Jaabari on October 10, 2015, in the center of the West Bank town of Hebron. Israeli security forces have arrested approximately 400 Palestinians since the October 1 outbreak of violence in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, the Palestinian Prisoner Club said. AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER (Photo credit should read HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers detain a wounded Palestinian stone thrower after infiltrated members of the Israeli security forces shot at fellow protesters during clashes in Beit El, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah, on October 7, 2015. New violence rocked Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including a stabbing in annexed east Jerusalem, even as Israel and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas took steps to ease tensions. AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Kerry said Israel had a right to protect itself against random acts of violence, and in his conversations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the Israeli leader said he was committed to maintaining the status quo at the holy site.

"I don't have specific expectations except to try to move things forward, and that will depend on the conversations themselves," Kerry told reporters.

He added that he did not expect any changes in the status quo at the holy site.

"Israel understands the importance of the status quo and ... our objective is to make sure that everyone understands what that means (...) We are not seeking a new change or outsiders to come in, I don't think Israel or Jordan wants that and we're not proposing it. What we need is clarity," Kerry said.

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