US diplomatic staff caught abusing Israeli border guards

Friday, December 25, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Tension is again brewing between Israel and Washington, but this time it's not over pressure from US President Barack Obama to meet Arab demands. Rather, Israel is growing fed up with the abuse of its security officials by US diplomatic staff.

The situation neared boiling point on November 13 when the lead car of a 5-car convoy from the US Consulate in Jerusalem allegedly tried to run over an Israeli security guard at a checkpoint in Samaria.

According to an official description of the incident obtained by The Jerusalem Post, the convoy arrived at the Gilboa Crossing and refused to open any windows or provide identification. Israeli officials said the convoy purposely blocked the entire crossing and one of the vehicles lunged at an Israeli guard.

The incident was reportedly caught by security cameras installed at the checkpoint.

It was not the first time Israel has had trouble with US diplomatic vehicles.

Several months ago, a vehicle belonging to the US Consulate in Jerusalem was caught transporting a Palestinian without proper permits between Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.

In January of 2008, the situation also became very tense when US Security Coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton and then-consul-general Jacob Walles refused to roll down their windows or provide identification at a "West Bank" checkpoint.

In related news, major US Jewish organizations on Thursday blasted a senior member of the Obama Administration for criticizing Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren for not attending an event put on by the left-wing Jewish lobby group J Street.

Oren has kept his distance from J Street since taking over the embassy due to strong differences between the lobby group and Jerusalem on issues such as Iran and peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

When Oren turned down an invitation to attend a recent gathering, former J Street board member and current State Department director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, said it was "most unfortunate" and that Oren "would have learned a lot."

Alan Solow, chairman of the New York-based Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, noted that it was unacceptable for an administration official to publicly criticize a foreign government for not having a stronger relationship with a US lobby group.

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