'State Dept. causing Palestinians to avoid talks'

MK Michael Oren says American criticism of Israel weakens the confidence of Israelis and also causes the PA to avoid peace talks.

Nitsan Keidar ,

MK Michael Oren
MK Michael Oren
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), former Israeli ambassador to the United States, on Sunday night criticized the American government over its criticism on the weekend of the fact that Israel was demolishing Palestinian Arab homes in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

“The State Department criticizes Israeli measures in Judea and Samaria which it views as ‘unilateral measures’ that could harm negotiations with the Palestinians, but on the other hand does not condemn unilateral Palestinian action such as illegal construction and taking over lands,” Oren told Arutz Sheva.

“This policy of double standards weakens the confidence required by the Israelis on the one hand, and on the other hand weakens the viability of the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table,” he added.

Oren pointed out that “the State Department’s announcement is another indication of the erosion of our relations with the U.S. administration, as expressed recently with the cancellation of the Prime Minister's trip to the annual AIPAC conference.”

“While I support the declaration of the Prime Minister that he would not attend AIPAC and thus avoid creating the impression of inappropriate Israeli interference in the campaigns of the presidential candidates, I also urge the Israeli government to devote efforts and resources to strengthen the support for Israel among the two parties," said Oren.

The remarks in question came on Friday, when State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters that Washington was “concerned” by Israel’s recent demolitions of illegally built Arab structures in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.

In March Israel security forces demolished an illegal Arab building in the village of Khirbet Tana in the Jordan Valley. The structure, which was reportedly being used as a school, had been constructed with the help of the European Union.

Since 2012 the EU has worked aggressively to build illegal Arab outposts across strategic sections of Judea and Samaria, particularly near Jerusalem. From 2012 to 2015, the EU has built approximately 1,000 illegal buildings for Palestinian Authority Arabs.

Trudeau told reporters on Friday that enforcement of building laws on illegal Arab structures “are indicative of a damaging trend of demolitions, displacement, and land confiscation”.

The State Department was silent, however, on last week’s demolition of a synagogue near the town of Carmei Tzur.

The synagogue, which had previously been damaged by Arab arsonists in a February attack, was built in honor of the three Israeli youths who were kidnapped and murdered in 2014.