The Biden administration’s decision to equate Palestinian terror attacks with settler violence in the West Bank has sparked controversy among politicians, analysts, and international allies. This comes after a month in which four Israelis have been gunned down in terror attacks, three of them in the past week.
On Monday, two Palestinian terrorists sprayed an Israeli civilian vehicle with over 20 bullets, killing a preschool teacher in front of her daughter and seriously wounding the driver. Just two days earlier, a Palestinian terrorist fatally shot two Israelis at close range.
In response to the recent violence, the U.S. State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs division expressed its condemnation, tweeting, ‘We again condemn today’s terrorist attack by a Palestinian militant that killed one Israeli and wounded one other. We send our deepest condolences to the victims’ families. This violence must stop.’
We again condemn today's terrorist attack by a Palestinian militant that killed one Israeli and wounded one other. We send our deepest condolences to the victims’ families. This violence must stop.
— U.S. State Dept – Near Eastern Affairs (@StateDept_NEA) August 21, 2023
However, critics argue that the administration’s stance oversimplifies a complex situation. By equating settler violence with Palestinian terror attacks, the U.S. may be perceived as minimizing the severity of targeted attacks against Israelis. This has led to criticism from various quarters, including those who believe that the administration’s position could inadvertently encourage further violence.
The U.S. government’s funding of organizations like UNRWA, whose teachers have been accused of teaching hatred of Jews to Palestinian students and glorifying killing Jews, further complicates the administration’s position. Critics argue that by funding such organizations, the U.S. must take partial responsibility when terrorists commit acts of violence.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the United Nations Security Council that the U.S. is “deeply concerned by violence in the West Bank and Israel.” She then referenced an incident outside the village of Burka, where the details remain unclear. She called for both Israelis and Palestinians to take “immediate steps to de-escalate and restore calm.”
This call for balance has not been met with universal approval. Some view the administration’s position as a departure from traditional U.S. support for Israel. The UK’s envoy to the UN, James Kariuki, did not draw the same equivalency between Palestinian terror and settler violence as the U.S. had done, reflecting a divergence in international perspectives.
The administration’s comparative stance has raised questions about its commitment to addressing the root causes of the conflict and its ability to act as an unbiased mediator in the peace process. The decision to equate different forms of violence has added complexity to an already fraught situation and may undermine efforts to build trust between the two parties.
With increased tension in the region and differing international perspectives, the Biden administration’s latest position adds a new dimension to the ongoing efforts to secure peace in the region. It reflects a nuanced approach to a deeply polarized issue but also raises concerns about the potential implications for future diplomacy and the overall stability of an increasingly volatile region.