The American government expressed “confidence” and “faith in the system” that Israel will prosecute the murderers of Ali Sa’ed Dabwasha last night in the occupied village of Duma, the State Department said today.
It must be “faith” because there’s no evidence for it: the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem documents that Israeli government has a policy of NOT enforcing the law against Jewish settlers; and Jewish settlers are suspected in the murder. In the last three years, Israelis have set fire to nine Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank; and no one has ever been charged. So why does the U.S. government have “faith in the system” when it comes to the murder last night of Ali Saed Dabwasha?
From today’s State Department briefing:
QUESTION: Seeing how there is an uptick now in these settler attacks against Palestinians and their property and so on and with a price tag and all that, I wonder if the Department is looking into any steps it can take to apply U.S. anti-terror laws under its purview to combat these sorts of things. Are you?
MR TONER: Well, look, as the statement said, we’ve obviously condemned this attack. We welcome the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu did order Israel’s security forces to use all means at their disposal to apprehend the murderers of what he called an act of terrorism and to bring them to justice, and we obviously urge all sides in this moment to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions.
But Israel is – the Government of Israel is investigating the incident and has expressed its firm commitment to pursuing the perpetrators of this attack, so we’ll let this process play out.
QUESTION: Do you have confidence in the Israeli Government doing that?
MR TONER: Certainly.
QUESTION: Do you have evidence that they have done that in the past? For instance, in the case of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was burned alive last year, there have been no convictions up to now —
MR TONER: And we’ve spoken about this before. We have confidence – Israel is a vibrant, strong democracy with strong institutions and a very strong legal system, so yes, we have confidence in it.
QUESTION: If you were to be asked on evidence where actually the Israelis held these terrorists accountable and put them in prison, can you cite any?
MR TONER: Not off the top of my head, but we have faith in the system.
QUESTION: Okay, all right. But seeing that the violence is really escalating – today they just killed a 17-year-old boy in the Qalandia refugee camp, 17-year-old Hani al-Kasbah. I mean, this is – obviously all these things are a byproduct of continued settlement activity, byproduct of the continued occupation and so on. When are you going to put some U.S. credibility behind your statements? I mean, your concern, your condemnation, these statements that we are seeing stronger and stronger and really put an end to, let’s say, at least to aiding this process?
MR TONER: Well, I mean, we’ve been pretty vocal in the last days about our – regarding settlements. We put out a statement the other day. We continue to believe strongly that achieving a two-state solution remains in the best – remains the best path forward for Israel’s long-term security, and frankly, we make that point all the time to the Israeli Government both publicly and privately. We continue to look to both the new Israeli Government as well as the Palestinians to demonstrate through policies and actions a genuine commitment to a two-state solution. Our policy on settlements is very clear and we continue to convey those concerns both publicly and privately.
QUESTION: I understand. But when the Palestinians do unilateral actions, for instance, you can cut off aid and you have done so in the past. When the Israelis do unilateral action, what action do you actually – physical action – do you take against the Israelis?
MR TONER: Well, again, we speak to the Israelis on a constant basis. Obviously, it’s a very strong and deep bilateral relationship, but where we disagree we convey our disagreement to them and we’re very adamant about the fact that, as I said, we want to see a genuine commitment to a two-state solution and we want to see actions and, frankly, policies that reflect that commitment on the side both of the Israel – Israel and the Palestinians.
QUESTION: And I promise this is my final question on this.
MR TONER: It’s okay, no worries.
QUESTION: So they are going to – the Palestinians said they will go before the ICC on this issue. Would you oppose their efforts in that regard?
MR TONER: I’m not going to speak it. You know our policy regarding the ICC.
B’Tselem’s report on the child’s killing says there is no basis for that faith:
[It is Israeli] authorities’ policy to avoid enforcing the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians and their property. This policy creates impunity for hate crimes, and encourages assailants to continue, leading to this morning’s horrific result.
According to B’Tselem statistics, in the past three years since August 2012, Israeli civilians set fire to nine Palestinian homes in the West Bank. Additionally, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Palestinian taxi, severely burning the family on board. No one was charged in any of these cases. The ISA [Israel Security Agency] suspects two were related to the perpetrators of June’s arson attack on the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, but it is doubtful these cases would have been solved independently of the effort put into the church arson inside Israel.
In recent years, Israeli civilians set fire to dozens of Palestinian homes, mosques, businesses, agricultural land and vehicles in the West Bank. The vast majority of these cases were never solved, and in many of them the Israeli Police did not even bother take elementary investigative actions.
The fact that the Samaria and Judea (SHAI) Police and other law enforcement bodies have failed to solve these attacks isn’t fate. Rather, it is the result of a policy expressed throughout all levels of the law enforcement system, in particular the political echelons, up to and including the Prime Minister.