US ambassador to Israel blasts ‘2 standards’ of law in West Bank

Ben Sales

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The U.S. ambassador to Israel reportedly slammed the Israeli legal system in the West Bank, saying, “Too much Israeli vigilantism in the West Bank goes on unchecked.”

Daniel Shapiro, speaking Monday at a Tel Aviv conference organized by the Institute for National Security Studies, added that “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,” Haaretz reported.

Shapiro emphasized the U.S. government stance that a two-state solution is the best solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The United States is “concerned and perplexed” by recent Israeli government actions on the settlements, “which raise questions about Israeli intentions,” he said.

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That evening, the Prime Minister’s Office of Israel issued a statement condemning Shapiro’s remarks as “unacceptable and incorrect.”

“The words of the ambassador, on a day in which a murdered mother of six is buried and on a day in which a pregnant woman is stabbed — are unacceptable and incorrect,” the statement said. “Israel enforces the law for Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority is the one responsible for the diplomatic freeze, and continues to incite and refuse talks.”

Shapiro’s criticism echoes other expressions of concern voiced by the U.S. government in recent weeks.

Following Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon’s approval of a new settlement in a church compound in the West Bank, State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a news briefing that the administration was “deeply concerned” by Israeli actions that demonstrate a lack of commitment to the two-state solution.

Israel’s decision to establish a new settlement “only expands this significant majority of the West Bank that has already been claimed for exclusive Israeli use,” Kirby told reporters, according to Haaretz.

The State Department has also expressed concerns over Israel’s controversial NGO bill, rejecting comparisons between the Israeli proposal requiring registration of foreign-funded NGOs and U.S. laws registering foreign interest lobbyists.