What’s the US saying about Palestine, today? More settlements, same rhetoric
At the U.S. State Department press briefing on Wednesday, spokesperson Mark Toner took questions about the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. Thousands of housing units will be builtin illegal settlements.
A reporter also asked about the Dawabsheh family investigation, which the U.S. called for months ago and if there were any updates.
Toner was also asked if there is a double standard on “swift justice” by the Israeli officials for Israelis and Palestinians who “commit the same act of terrorism.”
QUESTION: Yeah. Very quickly to the Palestinian-Israeli issue.
MR TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: Today the Israelis are gearing up to expand settlements – 850 housing units in Gilo, 900 in Pisgat Ze’ev, 2,200 in Givat Hamatos, and similar number in Ramat Shlomo. Do you have any comment on that?
MR TONER: You’re talking about the settlement activity?
QUESTION: Yeah. Yes.
MR TONER: Yeah. Well, I mean, our – we continue to be, obviously, very concerned. We’ve never defended or supported Israel’s settlement activity, and our policy hasn’t changed.
QUESTION: I just want to go back to Iran for – the Iran report for one —
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?
MR TONER: Or – okay, you finish and then I’ll go to Matt.
QUESTION: Thank you. So also, it’s been four months since a group of settlers burned a Palestinian family in the village of Duma and you’ve called on Israel at the time to go ahead and do a swift investigation and bring those perpetrators to justice. Has anything happened in that period of time?
MR TONER: Again, I’m not aware of the latest on that case. I do know that there was the sentencing of two teens the other day who killed a Palestinian teen, Muhammad Abu Khdeir. So that’s the latest that I’m aware of. I’m not aware of the specific – I know the case that you’re talking about. I don’t know if there’s been any conclusion to that.
QUESTION: Okay. On that point, the main suspect, Haim Ben-David, who is 31 years old, was – the day of the sentencing was – the court accepted an insanity plea, which is really unusual on the day of the sentence.
MR TONER: You’re talking about – you’re talking about the Muhammad Abu Khdeir?
QUESTION: So there’s fear – yeah, yes. I’m referring to what you brought up —
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: — because a different thing. And there is a lot of fear that in fact these – they might be – might go free. Do you have – do you think there is a double standard of, let’s say, swift justice, so to speak, by the Israelis against Palestinians and Israelis who commit the same act of terrorism?
MR TONER: Well, look, I think that there was a case brought against this individual. Due process was carried out. We’ve talked about this before that we do believe in the democratic strength – or the strength of Israel’s democratic institutions, including its legal system.
QUESTION: Now, well, just to give you an example how they deal with Palestinians, today the Israelis blew up the home of Ibrahim Aqari in the refugee camp, Shuafat. He rammed someone a year ago, so they go in and they arrest a lot of people, they blow up the house and so on.
MR TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: We don’t really see similar activities against Israelis who commit such acts of terror.
MR TONER: Said, I am aware of that. No, I am aware of that and we believe that these kinds of punitive home demolitions are, frankly, counterproductive and can only exacerbate an already tense situation.