Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer - a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - made what’s been described as a “veiled jab” at Secretary of State John Kerry, when he blasted as “foolish” those who believe that the stalled peace process or Israel’s control of parts of the West Bank and east Jerusalem are fueling the recent wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks.
“[W]hen it comes to the Middle East, very smart people sometimes believe in very foolish things,” Dermer told the Israeli American Council's National Israeli-American Conference in Washington Saturday night.
Ron Dermer, Ambassador of Israel, speaks at the National Commemoration of the Days of Remembrance honoring the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C., April 30, 2014 (Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
The ambassador noted for example that “some people believe that the reason why these attacks are happening is because of Israel’s control of the territories it captured in the Six Day War or because the peace process with the Palestinians is stalled.”
However, “the idea that renewing the peace process or withdrawing from the territories will somehow stop terrorism is fiction,” based on recent history which showed that Palestinians launched attacks even when peace negotiations were underway, the ambassador argued, according to the text of the speech he posted on Facebook.
Terrorist attacks have been going on “for nearly one hundred years,” both “before Israel took control of Judea and Samaria and after Israel took control of Judea and Samaria,” Dermer noted, referring to the historical names for the West Bank.
“The match that lit the latest wave of attacks is not the settlements or a lack of a political process. The match was the lie that Israel seeks to harm the Al-Aqsa mosque,” Dermer said.
Kerry irked the Israeli government last week when he appeared to suggest that Jewish settlements were to blame for the violence.
“There’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years,” Kerry said during a talk at Harvard University, adding, “you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing, and a frustration among Israelis who don’t see any movement.”
After scathing public criticism from top Israeli cabinet ministers, Kerry, in an apparent attempt to clarify his earlier statement, said on Thursday, “There is absolutely no justification for these reprehensible attacks.”
Dermer’s choice of the word “foolish” echoed the description last week by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan who used the same adjective to describe efforts at evenhandedness from the State Department podium.
“I don’t know if to call those at the State Department and in the U.S. administration naive,” Erdan told Israel’s Army Radio Thursday, and blasted the State Department for "issuing foolish statements that appear to be directed at both sides – as if they’re equal – instead of focusing pressure on the murderous, inciting Palestinian Authority."
Speaking at the Israeli-American gathering Saturday, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also had scorn for the Obama administration's efforts to mete out equal criticism to the Israeli and Palestinian sides over the recent violence, calling them “a distortion of reality."
"The comparison between Israel and the Palestinians is unacceptable. It is absolutely not acceptable,” Shaked said according to Israel’s Ynet.