The United States Consulate in Jerusalem, Israel has been arming a group of thirty-five Palestinians from East Jerusalem communities, supposedly for the purpose of providing security for U.S. consular trips into the West Bank, according to reports.
Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth has stated that by arming the Palestinian group, the United States has violated an agreement with Israel that entails only the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its veterans are allowed to provide security as consulate guards. Itamar Eichner of Yedioth Ahronoth wrote, “The consulate was authorized to keep roughly 100 handguns for security staff, on condition that they be either American diplomats or Israeli army veterans.”
Israelis warned that setting up a Palestinian militia may result in disaster, and creates the possibility that those weapons may fall into the hands of jihadist terror groups. The U.S. “is in effect setting up an armed Palestinian militia in the consulate,” claimed an Israeli security guard who spoke to the Times of Israel. “They are being trained with weapons, in Krav Maga (Israeli martial arts), and tactical driving. It’s Irresponsible. Who can guarantee that such weapons in the hands of Palestinians won’t spread to terror?”
Israeli guards at the consulate have also alleged that the U.S. is training the Palestinian militia offsite–at a Palestinian security base and in the United States.
Three of the Israeli security guards have reportedly quit in protest of the U.S. mission at the Consulate. Israeli guards have claimed that the US is violating further agreements by keeping automatic rifles and machine guns at the consulate. The U.S. also allegedly employs a senior staff member at the consulate who once served time in Israeli prison for being a member of a terror group, according to reports relayed by the Times of Israel. Another senior advisor, Muhammad Hassan Abu Tir, has been a mainstay in Israeli prisons. Also, he is closely related to leaders of the Hamas terror group, the report stated.
One Consulate employee insisted that U.S. Consulate security officer, Dan Cronin, “does whatever he wants,” and that his “behavior tends towards the Palestinians.”
The report also states that the diplomats at the Consulate live in Jewish areas of Jerusalem but consider themselves “American Ambassadors in Palestine.”
The U.S. Consulate responded to the reports but did not directly address any of the allegations made. The U.S. Consulate wrote: “The US Consulate General in Jerusalem has full confidence in the professionalism of its staff. We do not discuss the security of our diplomatic mission but note that there are many inaccuracies here. In addition, we coordinate our work with local authorities to the fullest.”