On Thursday, various members of the Obama administration were asked to clarify remarks made by State Department spokesman John Kirby blaming Israel and Palestinians equally for terrorist attacks, and in every case, Obama officials stood by the reprehensible remarks.
Israel has has seen a rash of horrific terrorist attacks in recent days.
Given an opportunity to walk back his remarks, Kirby doubled down on the administration’s moral equivalency at a press briefing today.
“I would just reiterate what was said before,” he said. “The violence needs to stop. There’s no excuse for the intentional killing of innocent people — for the use of terrorism as a tactic.”
The White House was on the same page, as White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters: “The United States mourns any loss of innocent life — whether it’s Israeli or it’s Palestinian.” He added: “It’s our view that both sides have a responsibility to exercise restraint.” (He could only have been referring to the Israelis here. There is plenty one could say to people who believe in stabbing or shooting innocent civilians on the street or running them down with their cars, but “use more restraint” isn’t one of them. The Israelis are the ones who are always accused of responding to Palestinian provocations with a lack of restraint. )
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said “we want to see both sides take affirmative steps, affirmative actions that reduce tensions in the region.”
The AP’s Matt Lee pressed Toner. “So the administration sees both sides at fault here?” he asked. Toner reiterated that “both sides need to reduce the tensions that are leading to ongoing incidents of violence.” (The not-so hidden subtext being that Israel needs to agree to whatever demands the Palestinians are making.)
He added that “it’s not that we’re dissatisfied with one party or the other — we’re just saying that, to end the current cycle, both sides need to take action.”
One wonders what the Palestinian side would need to do to cause the Obama administration to be “dissatisfied” with it.
In a statement Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of spreading lies about the violence, and warned the world not to confuse his country’s victims with their attackers.