WASHINGTON - The US backed Israel’s right to self-defense against rocket attacks from Lebanon and thwarted United Nations Security Council action against Israel over police actions to quell riots on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.“We condemn the launch of rockets from Lebanon and Gaza at Israel,” US State Department Deputy spokesperson Vendant told reporters in Washington on Thursday.
Both he and a National Security Council spokesperson said, ”Our commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad. We recognize Israel’s legitimate right to defend its people and territory against all forms of aggression.”
"Using Lebanon as a t against Israel only puts the Lebanese people at risk and increases the potential for further instability in the country," the spokesperson added.
"We urge all sides to avoid further escalation," the official said.
According to the spokesperson, the President has been fully briefed, and Ambassador Nides and others throughout the US government continue their regular dialogue with Israel on this and other matters of mutual concern.
The United States also thwarted United Nations Security Council action against Israel over Wednesday and Thursday’s violent clashes that took place on the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al-Haram, al-Sharif, according to a diplomatic source.
The closed door meeting was called by the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Although it was on the Pessach holiday, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan spoke with envoys from the UNSC’s 15 member states, particularly with the US which has veto power on the council.
In its public statements, US officials called for calm in Jerusalem.
“We are concerned by the scenes out of Jerusalem and it is our view point that it is absolutely vital that the sanctity of holy sites be preserved,” Patel said.
“We emphasize the importance of upholding the historic status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem and any unilateral action that jepordizes that status quo, is to us unacceptable. We call for restraint, coordination and calm during the holiday season,” he said, as he referenced the overlapping holidays this month of Ramadan, Passover and Easter.
The NSC spokesperson said, "as the president has made clear, Israelis and Palestinians both deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom," the spokesperson continued. "We remain extremely concerned by the continuing violence and we urge all sides to avoid further escalation.”
China said it was concerned about the heightened tension between Israel and the Palestinians and urges all sides, especially Israel, to exercise restraint, its special envoy for Middle East affairs said on Thursday.
The international community should take substantive measures for the early and proper solution of the Palestinian issues, the Special Envoy of the Chinese Government on the Middle East, Zhai Jun, said in a statement posted by China's foreign ministry.
The United Nations also condemned multiple rockets fired into northern Israel and urged all actors to exercise maximum restraint, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
"The UN interim force in Lebanon remains in contact with authorities on both sides of the blue line and we urge the parties to liaise with our peacekeepers and avoid any unilateral action that could further escalate the situation," he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.