When tensions flared between Israel and Palestine two weeks ago, the Biden administration reportedly made requests of Israel that mirrored demands from Hamas terrorists, who have controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
What is the background?
Growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians boiled over on May 10 when Hamas began firing missiles at Israel.
Prior to the military escalation, Hamas had demanded Israel remove their security forces from and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits on the Temple Mount, a site holy to Jews and Muslims.
Israeli security forces only entered the compound after increasing violence from Palestinian activists. “Anger had been mounting for weeks among Palestinians ahead of a now-delayed Israeli court ruling on whether authorities were able to evict dozens of Palestinians from the Old City’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and give their homes to Jewish settlers,” the Guardian reported.
What did the Biden admin tell Israel?
As tensions escalated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, top Biden administration officials reportedly spoke with their Israeli counterparts and made three demands of Israel.
The demands included canceling evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and canceling the annual Jerusalem Day flag parade.
[W]ith tensions escalating fast, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had called his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat, while Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke to the director general of the Israeli foreign ministry, Alon Ushpiz.
The Biden administration had three immediate demands of Israel: stop the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, lower tensions on the Temple Mount and cancel the annual Jerusalem Day flag parade, during which Israeli nationalists celebrate the unification of Jerusalem under Israeli control.
Israel reportedly rejected U.S. requests, though, as Axios noted, it appeared that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to thwart further escalation.
“[Netanyahu] asked the Supreme Court to postpone its verdict on the evictions, banned visits by Jews to the Temple Mount and rerouted the flag parade so it wouldn’t pass through the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City,” Axios reported.
What were Hamas’ demands?
A Hamas spokesperson told Newsweek their goal in attacking Israel was “to have the Israeli occupation authorities accept our demands.”
Those demands included “giving free access to worshipers from all parts of Palestine to pray at Al Aqsa Mosque without restriction or harassment by the Israeli police or the Israeli settlers and halting the attempts to expel the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah,” the Hamas spokesperson told the media outlet.
An Israeli official reportedly responded to the demands by explaining they were “already and partially the policy of Israel,” as indicated by Axios’ report.
Israeli and Palestinian officials finally came to a ceasefire agreement that began last Friday morning.