U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Berlin for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he hopes will help ease spiraling tensions and violence with the Palestinians.

A senior official traveling with Kerry says the secretary would use Thursday's meeting to try to "change the tone of the public discourse" between Israel and the Palestinians and clarify the status of the holy site at the center of the tensions. The official spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss it by name.

Kerry, who will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday in Jordan, has said he wants clarity about the status quo about the site, but officials say he doesn't believe that needs to be in writing.