U.S. President Barack Obama condemned on Monday the murder of Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrah (19), Naftali Frenkel (16), and Gilad Sha'ar (16), but also called on both sides not to take steps “that could further destabilize the situation.”
“On behalf of the American people I extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha’ar, and Naftali Frenkel – who held Israeli and American citizenship,” said Obama.
“As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth. From the outset, I have offered our full support to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to find the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice, and I encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working together in that effort,” he continued.
“I also urge all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation. As the Israeli people deal with this tragedy, they have the full support and friendship of the United States,” concluded Obama.
Obama’s statement on the murders follows those of the State Department and the White House, which limited themselves to a tepid “condemnation of violence” that appeared to apply equally to Israelis and Palestinians.
The White House said that it “condemned the violence that has taken the lives of innocent civilians.”
The State Department, meanwhile, said that the murders were a “tragedy,” but called on “both sides to maintain patience and restraint.” The statement also urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue their security cooperation.
Washington’s statements contrasted with statements by the leaders of France and Britain.
French President Francois Hollande in a statement “strongly condemned the cowardly murders” and offered his “sincere condolences to their families as well as to the Israeli authorities.
In a Twitter post Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron called the murders an "inexcusable act of terror. Britain will stand with Israel as it seeks to bring to justice those responsible," he wrote.