President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he was hopeful that a cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians would end soon, after a phone conversation he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"My expectation and hope is this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself," Biden told reporters at the White House.
Biden did not explain the reasons behind his optimism. He said his national security team had been in frequent contact with counterparts in Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to try to bring about a resolution of the conflict.
Violence erupted last Friday at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque amid growing anger over the potential eviction of Palestinians from homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers. The clashes escalated on Monday.
A White House statement about the Biden-Netanyahu talks said Biden condemned rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups against targets in Israel and "conveyed his unwavering support for Israel's security and for Israel's legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians."
"He also conveyed the United States' encouragement of a pathway toward restoring a sustainable calm. He shared his conviction that Jerusalem, a city of such importance to people of faith from around the world, must be a place of peace," the statement said.
The two leaders agreed to stay in touch personally in the days ahead and to maintain close consultation between their teams, the statement said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a phone call on Wednesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned "the rocket attacks and emphasized the need to de-escalate tensions and bring the current violence to an end," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.