TEL AVIV – Israel is thoroughly investigating a shooting incident that involved an IDF soldier in Hebron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The soldier was arrested ten days ago after shooting a disarmed Palestinian terrorist in the head.
The assurance comes after Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and 10 U.S. congressmen sent a letter to Kerry on February 17 – long before the Hebron incident – asking him to investigate Israel over “a disturbing number of reports of possible gross violations of human rights” in the country, citing alleged extrajudicial killings of Palestinians by IDF soldiers.
The letter also expressed concerns about Egyptian abuses, and should either country be found in violation of human rights, a law pushed by Leahy in 1997 would require the State Department and Department of Defense to cut foreign aid.
Netanyahu rejected Leahy’s claim, saying his accusations should be directed at those who “incite youngsters to commit cruel acts of terrorism.”
“The IDF and the Israel Police do not engage in executions,” Netanyahu said. “Israel’s soldiers and police officers defend themselves and innocent civilians with the highest moral standards against bloodthirsty terrorists who come to murder them. Where is the concern for the human rights of the many Israelis who have been murdered and maimed by these savage terrorists?”
Leahy issued a statement in response saying that investigating the matter “is only fair to U.S. taxpayers, and it is necessary to upholding the law that our country stands for.”
State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said in Friday’s briefing at the State Department that the U.S. is “concerned about the demolitions undertaken by Israeli authorities that continue throughout the West Bank and east Jerusalem.”
“These actions are indicative of a damaging trend of demolition, displacement, and land confiscation, and alongside settlement-related activity and continued construction, undermine the possibility of a two-state solution. They also call into question the Israeli government’s commitment to that two-state solution,” she said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said during an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 on Thursday that he had in the past offered to meet Netanyahu to restart negotiations.
“I will meet with him, at any time. And I suggested, by the way, for him to meet,” Abbas said.
Asked what became of the offer, Abbas said: “No, no. It’s a secret. He can tell you about it.”
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu has consistently offered to meet Abbas anywhere and anytime without preconditions, an overture he reiterated at the recent AIPAC convention in Washington.
However, the PMO official said, Abbas always sets preconditions for meeting Netanyahu, ranging from a freeze on settlement construction to an Israeli acceptance that the negotiations must be based on a total Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 ceasefire lines.