State Department backs Shapiro's criticism

State Department spokesman says there was "nothing new" in Ambassador Shapiro's critique of Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria.

Ben Ariel ,

Netanyahu and Shapiro
Netanyahu and Shapiro
GPO photo

The State Department on Tuesday backed Ambassador Dan Shapiro’s remarks castigating Israel over its alleged treatment of Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

In his daily press briefing, State Department spokesman John Kirby said Shapiro’s comments were “nothing new”.

Shapiro, who spoke Monday at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv, accused Israel of selective law enforcement against Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

"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."

He also blasted Israel’s “strategy on settlements”, saying, “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.”

Asked by a reporter on Tuesday to comment on Shapiro’s remarks, Kirby replied, “There’s really nothing new here in what he 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,” he continued.

“We also remain concerned and – 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,” said Kirby, who also said that “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.”

Shapiro “didn’t say anything that we haven’t said, again, privately and publicly,” Kirby stressed.

“He was simply reiterating our longstanding policies... that we believe are important to continue to stand by,” insisted the spokesman.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Office reacted angrily to Shapiro's claims after they were made, calling them “unacceptable and incorrect."

The Prime Minister's Office also noted that "Israel enforces its laws equally against Israelis and Palestinians" and also pointed out that "the one responsible for the political deadlock is the Palestinian Authority who continues to incite [terror attacks] and refuses to negotiate."

But on Tuesday, hours before Kirby backed Shapiro’s remarks, the ambassador and Netanyahu met one on one as they attempted to set the record straight after the incident.

Officials later described the meeting between as both positive and cordial.