Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met privately in his office for some 20 minutes with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro on Tuesday, a day after Shapiro irked the premier by saying that at times it seemed Israel employed a double legal standard in the West Bank.
The discussion took place prior to a meeting Netanyahu had with a delegation of four US congressmen, whom Shapiro accompanied to the Prime Minister’s office. Diplomatic officials stressed this point to indicate that Shapiro was not summoned to Netanyahu’s office.
The delegation included Republican congressmen Doug Lamborn from Colorado, Paul Cook from California, Dennis Ross from Florida and Democrat Brad Ashford from Nebraska.
Netanyahu and Shapiro, in addition to discussing the ambassador’s comment, also spoke about the Memorandum of Understanding being negotiated between the US and Israel that will be the framework for the next decade of US military aid to Israel.
Neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the US embassy would provide any more details of the conversation.
On Monday, during a speech to the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, Shapiro said that, “as Israel’s devoted friend, and its most stalwart partner, we believe that Israel must develop stronger and more credible responses to questions about the rule of law in the West Bank.”
Calling the recent indictments in the Duma murders “an important demonstration of Israel’s commitment to prosecute acts of terrorism, regardless of their source,” Shapiro added, however, that “too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities.”
“Too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seems to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law – one for Israelis and another for Palestinians,” he asserted.
The Prime Minister’s Office quickly issued a sharp response, saying that these words – coming on a day when Israel buried Dafna Meir and a pregnant woman was stabbed – “were unacceptable and wrong.”
Tuesday’s meeting also took place against the backdrop of criticism Shapiro leveled last week against the proposed NGO Transparency law. Netanyahu has since likened that legislation to similar rules in the US Congress mandating that witnesses before Congressional committees provide details in writing if they have received money from a foreign government.