US Ambassador Deflects Allegations IDF Guilty of Human Rights Allegations

June 17, 2018

2 min read

An email sent by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman dismissed accusations that the IDF was guilty of human rights violations, saying, “it would be against [US] national interests” to limit military aid to Israel.

The email, written in October, was revealed in an article by Politico on Saturday. Friedman had written the email in response to a call by State Department officials to re-examine American military assistance to governments in the Middle East to ensure the department wasn’t violating a law barring U.S. security aid to foreign military units that commit serious human rights abuses. Some Democratic Congressman suggested at the time that Israel might be guilty of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated against  Palestinians.

Friedman sent the email to a number of his colleagues in the State Department, saying he did “not believe we should extend the new [guidelines] to Israel at this time.”

“Israel is a democracy whose army does not engage in gross violations of human rights,” Friedman wrote, adding that Israel “has a robust system of investigation and prosecution in the rare circumstance where misconduct occurs.” He added, “it would be against [U.S.] national interests” to take a step that could limit Israel’s access to military equipment – “especially in a time of war.”

The email was part of a chain shown to Politico by a former State Department official. Politico wrote that last year,  a State Department inspector general report found shortcomings in the review process by US embassies in the Middle East. In addition, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted troubling issues at the US embassy in Egypt.

In response, Friedman wrote there was no need to reexamine vetting requirements in Israel, saying “my understanding is that nothing is broken that requires a repair.” He also rejected the idea that the findings of the GAO report applied to Israel.

“Post disagrees with the assessment that the Department should proactively address Israel based on GAO criticism of procedures in Egypt,” Friedman wrote in the email.

“We cannot and should not assume that GAO intended to apply the same criticism to Tel Aviv. If and when they do criticize Embassy Tel Aviv for these issues, it would be more appropriate to react at that time,” he added.

This revelation comes at a time when Israel is the focus of international criticism concerning the IDF handling of Hamas-led riots that threaten Israel’s southern border. Over 120 Palestinians, most identified as Hamas and Islamic Jihad military operatives, have been killed in clashes with the IDF.

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