'Timing of my Israel criticism not ideal,' US envoy Shapiro says

Dan Shapiro warned on Monday that the current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations has created a set of circumstances "that are leading to a binational state."

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January 25, 2016 08:33
1 minute read.
Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel, at Nevatim air force base

Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel, at Nevatim air force base. (photo credit: US STATE DEPARTMENT)

 
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A week after raising a storm by asserting that there are two standards of Israeli law in the West Bank, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro took to Israel’s radio waves on Monday and neither reiterated nor withdrew that assertion.

Instead, the ambassador – who made his initial comments on the day that Dafna Meir from Otniel was buried and a pregnant woman was stabbed in Tekoa – rued the timing of his comments.

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Asked on Army Radio whether he regrets the timing of the remarks, Shapiro said, “I understand the timing was not the best.”

Noting that there were only “one or two sentences” during his speech to the Institute of National Security Studies in Tel Aviv that caused disagreement, he said that if they caused any pain to the Meir family or those who mourned Dafna, “I certainly regret that.”

During his controversial address, Shapiro said, “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 also reiterated Washington’s firm opposition to Israel’s settlements policy.

In an unusual move, the Prime Minister’s Office responded the same day to Shapiro’s comments, saying they were “unacceptable and wrong.” Netanyahu and Shapiro met the next day, with Israeli sources saying the issue is “behind us.”



Shapiro, in an Israel Radio interview on Monday, described that meeting as “very positive” and said he and Netanyahu spoke “openly and reasonably” about his address, as well as other matters.

Shapiro said in the interview that some of the issues he addressed in his speech “were not heard among the noise,” including his strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks in Otniel and Tekoa; his call on the Palestinian authorities to condemn terrorism and violence and put an end to the incitement that could encourage terrorism; and his praise of the Israeli authorities for the arrests made in connection to the Duma attack.

Asked by Army Radio whether he stands by his comment that there are two standards of law in the West Bank, Shapiro did not answer directly, saying instead that the present reality could lead to a binational reality, “which is not in anyone’s interest.” He also sidestepped a question about what specific acts of Jewish violence he feels are not being sufficiently investigated.

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