Israel says US remarks over conflict are ‘foolish’

Israeli defense minister and minister of internal security lash out on US State Department spokesman remarks over conflict, that said Israeli army used excessive force

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits next to Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon (L) and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (R) as he speaks during a joint news conference in Jerusalem October 8, 2015.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan described US State Department spokesman John Kirby's comments over the Israeli Palestinian conflict as “foolish,” after Kirby commented on the situation, saying certain reports show Israeli security forces doing what many would consider excessive use of force. 

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon accused Washington of "misreading" the whole situation, saying that killing Palestinians accused of knife attacks was “self-defence.”

Kirby spoke at a daily press briefing on Wednesday, and said Israel has a right and responsibility to protect its citizens. But later he added: "Now, we have seen some - I wouldn't call the checkpoints this - but we've certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force."

US State Department spokesman John Kirby is seen during a press confererence in Pentagon, in this archive photo.

"Obviously, we don't like to see that, and we want to see restrictions that are elevated in this time of violence to be as temporary as possible if they have to be enacted," Kirby said.

Most recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered cabinet ministers to stop speaking publicly about the situation. Despite Netanyahu's order, on Wednesday, Erdan said Palestinian dead bodies of attackers will no longer be allowed to be delivered home for burial.

Gilad Erdan also said there will be no funerals for “Palestinians who killed Israelis,” as those funerals often turn into "an exhibition of support for terror and incitement to murder."

Added to the strong Israeli condemnation to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' saying the Israeli army was "executing our sons in cold blood.", Kirby’s comments aggravated top Israeli officials.

"Are we exercising excessive force? If someone wields a knife and they kill him, is that excessive force? What are we talking about?" Ya'alon said to the Israeli army radio on Thursday.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also commented via Israeli radio, "If people with knives were roaming the streets of New York and started stabbing people, they would not be asked to present their ID's, and the NYPD would draw their weapons,"

sraeli Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home party is seen on May 6, 2015 during the negotiation with the Likud at the parliament.

"The US administration can say whatever it wants - and we will do what is needed."

Shaked is best known for her wildly anti-Palestinian stances, the senior conservative Jewish Home political party figure, once posted an article on Facebook in July 2014, in which she drew comparison between the Palestinian people, and serpents, calling Palestinian children “little snakes” and justifying mass punishment for them.

During the controversy, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Shaked’s mindset bears great resemblance to the German dictator Adolf Hitler.

Public Israeli call to carry guns

Yaalon appealed to Israelis with gun licenses to make sure they always carry their guns. While Erdan accused Washington’s stances of carrying a hostile nature to the interests to Israel.

"Whoever doesn't have (a gun), should use whatever he has - it can be a club, an umbrella, anything - that can ward off the stabber and neutralize him,"  Yaalon urged.

"The US State Department has traditionally been hostile to Israel." Erdan said.

"To allow yourself to be misled by lies is really strange and amateurish," Erdan said.

"I would expect the administration to clarify this."

Ever since the US largely brokered in favour of the completion of an Iranian nuclear deal, that was finally reached in July 2014. All of which have considerably troubled the Israeli-US relations as of late, given the Israeli government strongly opposes the deal, and called it a “historic mistake”.

Kerry implies massive settlement expansion fuels violence

US Secretary of State John Kerry also addressed the situation during his speech at Harvard University on Wednesday, saying the massive wave of illegal settlements in the West Bank may have been a key reason fueling the tension.

"What's happening is that, unless we get going, a two-state solution could conceivably be stolen from everybody," Kerry said. "And there's been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years, and now you have this violence because there's a frustration that is growing."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during an event sponsored by Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts October 13, 2015.

However later Kirby offered more reading into Kerry’s comments. "The secretary wasn't saying, well now you have the settlement activity as the cause for the effect we're seeing," State Department spokesman John Kirby told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "Is it a source of frustration for Palestinians? You bet it is, and the secretary observed that. But this isn't about affixing blame on either side here for the violence. What we want to see is the violence cease."

He said that the US position against Israel's settlement construction is "crystal clear" and remains unchanged.

"We're not going to dictate immediate security requirements onto Israel. The Israeli government has a right and a responsibility to protect its citizens," Kirby added. "We've certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force. Obviously we don't like to see that."

Kerry said he plans to travel to the Middle East, in light of recent violence in occupied Jerusalem, between brutal Israeli forces and Palestinian protests. Kerry said his visit will aim to calm the situation and sway it "away from this precipice."

"I will go there soon, at some point appropriately, and try to work to re engage and see if we can't move that away from this precipice," Kerry told the audience.

This Middle East trip will be Kerry's most direct efforts concerning the Israelis and Palestinians since the failed US talks in 2014.

At least eight Israelis and 32 have died in the unrest so far since the start of the unrest. This unrest started on the eve of the Jewish new year’s Rosh Hashanah, when increasing Jewish visitation to Islam’s holy al Aqsa mosque peaked mid September, and agitated Palestinian mosque goers.

While Israeli security forces continue to use excessive force and ammunition against unarmed Palestinian, while sealing off Arab districts in occupied East Jerusalem, and setting up checkpoints, Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour described sealing off Arab neighbourhoods as "collective punishment".

Israeli paramilitary border police stand guard at a roadblock in East Jerusalem October 15, 2015.



TRTWorld and agencies