US criticism of Israel reaches boiling point
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro voiced a particularly sharp attack against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria on Monday, accusing Israeli authorities of holding them to different standards of law.
He expressed the unusually harsh criticism during a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv.
Shapiro condemned two brutal stabbing attacks on Sunday and Monday as “barbaric acts of terrorism,” before launching into a critique of Israel’s policies concerning the communities in Judea-Samaria.
“We are concerned and perplexed by Israel’s strategy on settlements,” Shapiro stated. “This government and previous Israeli governments have repeatedly expressed support for a negotiated settlement that would involve mutual recognition and separation.”
“Yet separation will become more and more difficult if Israel continues to expand settlements,” he asserted.
Shapiro then took issue with Israeli security forces, accusing them of being too lenient against extremist right-wing violence.
“Too much Israeli vigilantism in the West Bank goes on unchecked,” he charged, adding that “there is lack of thorough investigations… at times it seems Israel has two standards of adherence to rule of law in the West Bank – one for Jews and one for Palestinians.”
Shapiro’s comments come on the heels of a recent flood of castigations voiced by the US administration against the Israeli government.
Two weeks ago, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the US was “deeply concerned” after Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced a 40 dunam compound is being officially added to the Gush Etzion region in Judea.
“Along with the regular retroactive legalization of unauthorized outposts and construction of infrastructure in remote settlements, actions such as this decision clearly undermine the possibility of a two-state solution,” Kirby blasted.
Two days prior, Kirby rejected Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s assertion that her NGO Transparency Bill bore resemblance to US laws mandating the registration of foreign interest lobbyists
The spokesman said that since the Israeli cabinet approved the bill, US officials have raised concerns about the dangers it may pose to, in his words, a “free and functioning civil society.”
Shapiro met with Shaked about the proposed legislation last week, releasing a rare statement on the meeting, in which he noted the “US government’s concerns on the matter.”
The Prime Minister’s Office rejected Shapiro’s accusations out of hand shortly after his speech on Monday, noting the indictments in the Duma arson case as proof there is one law for all residents of Judea-Samaria.