US ambassador slams ‘settler violence’

Thomas Nides tells Israeli army radio ‘settler violence needs to end,’ says new Iranian nuclear deal is dependent on Tehran cooperating in talks.

By World Israel News Staff

American Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides castigated “settler violence” during an interview Thursday, while acknowledging that it is distinct from Arab terrorism.

Nides spoke with Galei Tzahal, Israel’s army radio, in an interview broadcast Thursday morning which touched on Israeli security, the stalled nuclear talks in Vienna, and the maritime border deal between Israel and Lebanon.

During the interview, Nides lamented “settler violence” against Palestinian Arabs, calling for an end to the phenomenon.

“Let me be clear: Israel has the right to defend itself against any terrorist act. We one-hundred percent believe that to be the case. We also believe that the level of settler violence needs to end, and we’ve made that very clear.”

“But make no mistake, we stand by Israel in its security and its right to defend itself against terror, and we support that. That does not suggest that we don’t also have views vis-a-vis…settler violence and violence generally.”

Nides rejected a possible comparison between “settler violence” and Arab terrorism, however.

“Let’s be clear: They’re two separate issues, I don’t equate one at all with the other.”

Regarding the deal fixing the Lebanese-Israel maritime border, signed on Thursday, Nides pushed back on criticism from his former Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

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Expressing admiration for his predecessor, Nides said he “has an enormous amount of respect” for the Trump administration’s ambassador, even as he rejected his criticism of the agreement.

“I think it’s better than good, I think it helps keep Israel stronger and it provides the ability for Israel to tap into some important gas in Karish. It keeps the security border around, which was very important.”

“I think this was, in our view, an enormously important success and I congratulate not only the Prime Minister but Defense Minister Gantz and the Lebanese and everyone who was involved in this. It’s something that we spent a lot of time working on, and we’re thrilled to have it happen.”

Turning to the stalled Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Nides said “the ball is in the Iranians’ court,” claiming the U.S. will not compromise its conditions for a new nuclear agreement.

“Unless the Iranians reach the agreements that we laid out for them, we obviously are not moving forward on the JCPOA. They haven’t done that yet.”

“As we’ve said before I’m not holding my breath for us coming back to the negotiating table, but at this point we’re at where we are, which is we laid out very clear understandings of what we believe the Iranians need to deliver, they are not delivering it and consequently we’re not moving.”

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