Additional flaps with US officials reported at roadblocks

American diplomats continue to raise Civil Administration's ire over continued refusal to open their car doors or windows when crossing from Israel into West Bank.

idf roadblock 298 88 idf (photo credit: IDF [file])
idf roadblock 298 88 idf
(photo credit: IDF [file])
American diplomats continued this week to raise the Civil Administration's ire over their continued refusal to open their car doors or windows and present identification when crossing from Israel into the West Bank. On Tuesday, Civil Administration officials filed a report with the Foreign Ministry after American officials, including the US security coordinator to Israel and the Palestinian Authority Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, refused to present their identification cards as they arrived at an IDF checkpoint at the entrance to Ramallah. Civil Administration officials told The Jerusalem Post that Tuesday's incident was apparently part of a new American "policy" to refuse to roll down windows or open doors at IDF checkpoints in the West Bank. After a slight delay and following the intervention of Civil Administration head Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Dayton's car was allowed to pass. Last Wednesday, the Civil Administration filed a similar report against US Consul-General in Jerusalem Jacob Walles after the diplomat refused to roll down his window or open his door and show identification papers at a checkpoint. Earlier this week, there was another incident with mid-level American diplomats, who also refused to roll down their windows and show identification papers. Civil Administration officials told the Post that American diplomats were the only ones refusing to show papers at IDF checkpoints. For that purpose, the Foreign Ministry issues special "diplomat cards" that can be presented at the crossings. The officials said it appeared the Americans were refusing to open the car door or roll down the window due to security considerations. "This appears to be a new policy," a senior official said. "What is strange is that only Americans are behaving this way and no one else." The officials emphasized the importance in being able to look inside the car and confirm the identification of the occupants. "This is really in everyone's interest," the senior official said. "When we look inside we are not only making sure that the occupants are who they say they are but that there are no terrorists inside who have maybe taken them hostage." Officials in the US consulate in Jerusalem had no comment on the recent incident, and said only that what a US diplomatic official said last week following the incident with Walles remained valid. At that time, the official said that "the standard diplomatic practice is there is no requirement for the soldiers to open any of the doors, and physically look inside the vehicles." The US consulate travels into the West Bank in armored cars, and their windows cannot be rolled down. A Foreign Ministry official said the ministry was aware of the incidents, but did not know of any change in US policy.