Ned Price
Ned PriceReuters

State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Tuesday stressed that the US backs Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism, following the IDF operation in Jenin in which four terrorists were eliminated, including the terrorist who murdered brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv in Huwara last week.

“We understand the IDF – which they have said publicly was pursuing a terrorist who murdered two Israeli civilians in what can only be described as a horrific attack late last month, on February 26th. Israel, as we have made the point before, has the legitimate right to defend its people and its territory against all forms of aggression, including, of course, those from terrorist groups. And we’ve, as I just mentioned, have seen far too many vivid illustrations of the terrorist threat that Israel faces, including in recent days,” Price told reporters during his daily press briefing.

At the same time, he said the US remains “deeply concerned” by the recent violence in the region, adding that “and we continue to urge the parties to take immediate steps to prevent the further loss of life, as you saw in the readout from the Secretary’s discussion yesterday with Mr. Dermer and the national security advisor. That was a message that the Secretary reiterated in that context as well.”

“We’ve said this many times before, but we continue to believe that Israelis and Palestinians deserve equal measures of freedom, of security, of prosperity. That remains our goal. That remains our long-term goal to, in the first instance, keep alive the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution on the path to realizing that. The near-term goal is the goal we keep stressing in public and in private, that Israelis and Palestinians must take steps on an urgent basis to de-escalate tensions, to restore calm, and to put an end to this cycle of violence that has taken the lives of far too many on both sides,” continued Price.

The spokesperson also once again denounced attacks by Jews on the Arab village of Huwara, following the latest incident on Monday, in which violence broke out in the village as Chabad Hasidim were visiting IDF soldiers stationed there.

“We have condemned all forms of violence. We’re aware of reports yesterday – excuse me, we’re aware of reports of another attack on Huwara by settlers yesterday, as you referred to. And that comes just one week after the completely unacceptable attacks and torching of property in the same village,” said Price.

“We’re extremely concerned by these events and the continuing violence in Israel and the West Bank. We very much appreciate the statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu, by President Herzog, and others in Israel calling for a cessation of this vigilante violence. Accountability and justice should be pursued with equal rigor in all cases of extremist violence, and equal resources dedicated to prevent such attacks and to bring those responsible for them to justice,” he added.