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A leading member of the congressional Israel caucus says the Obama administration is fueling hatred against the Jewish state following comments by a top U.S. diplomat accusing Israel of not upholding democratic rule of law, according to a letter sent Wednesday to the State Department and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, lashed out at the administration, chastising it for seeking to inflame a diplomatic fight with Israel as the Jewish state grapples with a new wave of Palestinian terror attacks that has killed and wounded many civilians.
Dan Shapiro, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, elicited a sharp rebuke from Israeli leaders Tuesday when he accused the Jewish state of failing to properly investigate crimes committed against Palestinians.
“Too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities, too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians,” Shapiro said, referring to this as “unacceptable.”
Shapiro’s comments came the same day that Dafna Meir, an Israeli mother of six who was stabbed to death last week in her home by a Palestinian terrorist, was buried.
Israeli leaders accused Shapiro of promulgating lies used by Israel’s critics to delegitimize the Jewish state.
Shapiro’s comments prompted Roskam to write Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday to demand that he distance the Obama administration from Shapiro’s remarks.
“Shapiro troublingly questions Israel’s ‘long-term intentions’ and openly cast doubt upon the seriousness of its desire to reach peace with the Palestinians,” Roskam wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Free Beacon. “These remarks do not reflect reality, yet they serve to empower those who wish to delegitimize and marginalize the Jewish state.”
“In fact,” Roskam added, “the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement consistently seizes on this exact type of rhetoric to advance its insidious campaign to destroy Israel.”
As Israeli security forces work to combat the continuing wave of Palestinian terrorism, Shapiro’s comment are likely to add fuel to the anti-Israel fire, Roskam said.
“Now, more than ever, the United States must unequivocally stand with Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East,” Roskam wrote. “Repeated public displays of disunity only serve to weaken our relationship, inhibit peace efforts, and incite further hatred. Ambassador Shapiro’s troubling remarks are counterproductive and wrong. I encourage you to reject these misguided comments and reaffirm out unbreakable support for Israel.”
Palestinian leaders, who have celebrated and encouraged the recent terror attacks, will likely seize upon Shapiro’s remarks.
“As Ambassador Shapiro was wrongly castigating Israel on the world stage, Palestinian leaders were unabashedly praising the Dafna’s killers and further inciting Palestinians to continue the ‘Intifada of Knives,’” he wrote. “Perpetuating falsities and placing undue and disproportionate blame on Israel for the stalled peace process is a harmful distraction from ongoing Palestinian terrorist attacks, which ultimately, make peace harder to achieve.”
“At their most basic level, the ambassadors’ comments are inaccurate,” Roskam said, referring to multiple efforts by Israel in the past decades to foster peace.
In 2005, for instance, Israel unilaterally dissented from the Gaza Strip, where the terror group Hamas quickly rose to power.
In 2008, then Prime Minster Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a comprehensive peace plan that would have equally divided Jerusalem. Abbas, however, declined.