Israel’s US ambassador ‘regrets’ timing of remarks criticizing Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, says he regrets the timing of his criticisms of Israel’s policies in the West Bank — the day Dafna Meir, a murdered West Bank mother of six, was buried.

“I understand the timing was not ideal,” Shapiro told Army Radio on Monday morning, a week after the remarks that raised the ire of the Israeli government and its supporters. “I began with condemnations of the terror attacks in Otniel and Tekoa [the stabbing death of Meir and the stabbing of a pregnant Israeli]. There were only one or two controversial sentences, and if it hurt the Meir family or those mourning her, of course I regret that.”

In a Jan. 18 speech at a Tel Aviv conference on security, Shapiro said 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.” He also said: “Too much Israeli vigilantism in the West Bank goes on unchecked.”

His comments came the same day as the funeral for Meir, who was killed by a teenage Palestinian assailant in her Otniel home the day before. Hundreds attended the funeral, including several government ministers.

Shapiro also told Army Radio that the current lack of communication between Israel and the Palestinians is bringing the region closer to a binational state.

He told both Army Radio and Israel Radio, also in an interview on Monday morning, that with each settlement expansion or Palestinian attack on an Israeli civilian, the prospect of a two-state solution is becoming more distant.

The Prime Minister’s Office of Israel issued a statement  following Shapiro’s Jan. 18 remarks condemning them as “unacceptable and incorrect.”

“Israel enforces the law for Israelis and Palestinians,” the statement said. “The Palestinian Authority is the one responsible for the diplomatic freeze, and continues to incite and refuse talks.”

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