(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A U.S. State Department spokesman defended U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro on Tuesday, a day after Shapiro sparked outrage in Israel with criticism of Israeli policies in Judea and Samaria.
When asked on Tuesday about Shapiro’s comments, which were made in an address on Monday at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, State Department spokesman John Kirby said, “There’s really nothing new here in what he [Shapiro] said. We’ve consistently made clear our concerns about violence on both sides, and we obviously have strongly condemned terrorist attacks perpetrated by Palestinians, including the attacks over the weekend. We also remain concerned...deeply concerned, and we've not been bashful about saying this and neither was he, about Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank.”
Kirby added, “And as for the relationship, it’s because we value the relationship with Israel so much that we feel it’s important to continue to have an honest, open, candid, forthright discussion about our concerns. And that he said these things in his speech shouldn’t be misconstrued as not—as us not saying them in private to Israeli leaders as well—and have over many, many, many months. So this wasn’t a new—this wasn’t a new set of remarks.”
Kirby’s comments came a few hours after Shapiro met in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The meeting, which lasted 20 minutes, took place before Netanyahu met with a bipartisan delegation of U.S. Congress members.
In his speech on Monday, Shapiro said, “Too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities; too much vigilantism goes unchecked; and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.”
Later on Monday, Netanyahu issued a sharp response, calling Shapiro’s remarks “unacceptable and untrue.”