Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Amit Shabi/POOL) (Amit Shabi/POOL)
Netanyahu

Netanyahu reacted with fury over the US ambassador’s criticism of Israeli policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians, especially at the height of Palestinian terror.

The US ambassador to Israel criticized Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria at a high-profile security conference Monday, a rare public rebuke that drew an angry response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ambassador Dan Shapiro said that Washington was “concerned and perplexed” over Israel’s strategy of building “West Bank settlements.” Speaking to the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, a top Israeli think tank, he claimed that Israel’s “continued expansion of settlements” raises questions about Israel’s intentions and its stated commitment to establishing an independent Palestinian state. Shapiro added that Israel had also legalized some outposts despite pledges to the United States not to do so.

As Israel’s closest friend, the United States is steadfast in its support for Israel, but it was also its role to call Israel out on its errors, Shapiro said. He alleged that Israel restricts Palestinian economic development in the PA-run territories and bemoaned what he called an inadequate response to “settler” violence.

“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,” he said.

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro addresses security conference Monday. (Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)

Shapiro’s remarks sparked a terse response from Netanyahu, who said they were inappropriate at a time of heightened violence with the Palestinians.

On Sunday, an Israeli woman was stabbed to death – in the presence of one of her six children – by a Palestinian terrorist in her home in Otniel, a Jewish community in Judea. On Monday, a pregnant woman was stabbed and badly wounded in the town of Tekoa in Judea, just south of Jerusalem.

‘PA Continues to Incite, Refuses to Negotiate’

“The ambassador’s comments, on a day when a mother of six is being buried and a pregnant woman is stabbed, are unacceptable and untrue,” Netanyahu stated. “Israel enforces the law on Israelis and Palestinians. The one responsible for the diplomatic stalemate is the Palestinian Authority, which continues to incite and refuses to negotiate.”

Israel contends that the violence is the result of a Palestinian campaign of lies and incitement. The Palestinians argue it is rooted in frustrations over Israel’s nearly 50-year “occupation,” although the PLO was established in 1964, three years before Israel liberated the Old City of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – the biblical heartland that was under Jordanian rule for 19 years.

The spat highlights the tense relations of late between the United States and Israel, largely over Israel’s fierce objection to the Iranian nuclear deal.

By: AP and United with Israel

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