What’s the US saying about Palestine, today? Tariq Abu Khdeir
At the U.S. State Department press briefing on Thursday, spokesperson John Kirby discussed the light sentence issued to the Israeli policeman who beat up Palestinian American Tariq Abu Khdeir in July 2014. The policeman, whose name was not released, was sentenced to 45 days community service and a suspended term of four months in prison, Reuter reported.
Kirby was also asked about Israeli intelligence services being leaked and about an an 18-year-old American who was killed in an attack in the West Bank on Thursday. He didn’t say much about either.
QUESTION: Yeah. There were a couple things regarding Americans in Israel and Palestine. One, I don’t know if you’ll be able to say anything about this, but an American was apparently killed today in an attack, an 18-year-old, I think. Do you know about – can you say anything about this?
MR KIRBY: I can’t say much, Brad. We’re certainly aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was killed in an attack in the West Bank today, but I don’t have any information right now to be able to confirm that.
QUESTION: And then a sentence was delivered for an Israeli policeman, who a year ago was seen on video beating an American citizen, American dual-national.
MR KIRBY: Right.
QUESTION: I think he got six weeks of community service. Do you feel this is adequate accountability?
MR KIRBY: We were disappointed to learn that the Israeli police officer who severely beat American teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir in July of 2014 was spared prison time by an Israeli court yesterday. Given the clear evidence captured on videotape of the excessive use of force, it is difficult to see how this sentence would promote full accountability for the actions of the police officer in this case. We understand there is a possibility for the Israeli state prosecutor to appeal the decision, and we’re going to continue to follow that closely, as you might expect.
I’ll just state again, the safety, security, and protection of American citizens overseas is of paramount importance for this Administration, and we have demonstrated repeatedly – we’ve demonstrated that repeatedly in cases all over the globe.
QUESTION: Do you feel —
QUESTION: John, do you have —
QUESTION: Just one more on this. Do you feel that this somehow indicative, this sentence, or calls into question Israel’s overall commitment to holding accountable its government or military personnel who commit abuses?
MR KIRBY: I don’t think we’re at a stage now to make a leap here in terms of trend analysis for this. We treat each of these incidents separately and uniquely, and I’ll let my comments stand.
QUESTION: John, the Israelis are saying that Secretary Kerry is meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu next week. Can you confirm any of that?
MR KIRBY: I don’t have any travel announcements to make today for the Secretary.
QUESTION: Could I quickly follow-up on Brad’s question? Sorry for being late. On – you said you were disappointed, but are you surprised? You’re not surprised, because there has been – as he indicated, the precedent shows that the Israelis have basically conducted themselves in this fashion, from a judicial point of view, over the past over and over again.
MR KIRBY: Yeah. I think I’m just going to stick with the verb that I chose to use: disappointed.
QUESTION: Okay. Because also we can go back to the Dawabsha family burning back on July 31 and many, many other incidents. But to carry this – the issue, the Palestine-Israeli issue, there has been a number of stabbings today and —
MR KIRBY: Yes.
QUESTION: First, if you would comment on that.
And second, the prime minister of Israel basically lumped everything together. He’s saying that the Paris horrible attacks and so on and what is happening in the West Bank are part of the same sort of larger paradigm and the same kind of ideology. Do you believe that? Do you also believe that these incidents are motivated by religious zeal, for instance?
MR KIRBY: I haven’t seen the prime minister’s remarks, so I’m going to refrain from specific comment. And as I have said before, I’m not going to get into parsing and characterizing everything said in that part of the world. What I’ll tell you – back to your asking about our reaction to the stabbings, yes, of course, we’ve seen these reports and condemn in the strongest sense these terrorist attacks against innocent civilians. And as we’ve said many, many times, Said, we remain deeply concerned about the situation there, the violence, and we want to continue to encourage all sides to take affirmative steps to restore the calm and to prevent actions that are only going to further escalate the tensions.
QUESTION: One of them was a soldier. He was not a civilian. One of them —
MR KIRBY: I don’t have any – I don’t have specific information on the victims of it. But obviously, we’re certainly aware of it and condemn it, condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms.
QUESTION: Okay. Now, also my last question on the Palestine-Israeli issue. There have been – there has been reports by the Israeli intelligence services and so on leaked to the press that the current situation, with a diminished ability of Mahmoud Abbas and so on, the violence is not likely to end anytime soon. Are you aware of those reports and do you agree with them?
MR KIRBY: I’m not. I’ve not seen those. And even if I had, we don’t talk about intelligence matters or leaked reports here. The violence continues. We want to see it stopped.