State Dept. refuses to assign blame for rising violence in Israel

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it has asked both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take steps to stop the violence that has escalated over the last few weeks, but refused to take a position on which side was more to blame for the violence.

"The secretary spoke separately with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas over the weekend to express our deep concern over the recent wave of violence, and offer support for efforts that restore calm as soon as possible," said State spokesman Mark Toner.

But when pressed on whether Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take different steps, or whether either side was more at fault than the other, Toner had no comment. AP reporter Matt Lee asked Toner if the U.S. believes Israel is inciting violence or failing to condemn it, but Toner dodged the question.

"I think what we've been very clear about saying is that we want to see both sides take affirmative steps, affirmative actions, that reduce tensions in the region, and that we've seen, frankly, we've seen horrific attacks obviously today," he said. That's a reference to a Tuesday attack in which several Palestinian men killed Israelis by stabbing them — one ran his car into a bus stop, killing at least one Israeli.