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Kerry Warns Israeli-Palestinian Violence Could Escalate

Israeli medics evacuate a man wounded in what police suspected was a Palestinian stabbing attack to Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon, Nov. 21, 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has warned that ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence could "spin out of control." He made the statement after a diplomatic trip to the region where he met with leaders from both sides.

Kerry said Wednesday after flying to Boston that the U.S. has been encouraging Israel and the Palestinians to take steps to reduce tensions and demonstrate a true commitment to the two-state solution.

"I think we may be reaching a pivotal point now where both sides have important decisions to make for the future, and we obviously hope they make the choices that will advance the process for lasting peace," he said.

Since September, a wave of Palestinian stabbings, shootings and car rammings has killed at least 19 Israelis and an American student. At least 89 Palestinians have been killed, many while carrying out attacks and others in clashes with Israeli forces.

On Tuesday, Kerry condemned the Palestinian attacks as terrorism as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Netanyahu said Israel is battling militant Islamists "every hour" and described it as "the battle of civilization against barbarism."

Kerry later held talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.

Israel says the current violence is due to a Palestinian campaign of lies and incitement surrounding a sensitive Jerusalem holy site revered by Muslims and Jews. The Palestinians say the violence is rooted in frustration over nearly a half-century of occupation, and they accuse Israel of using excessive force to suppress the unrest.

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