U.S. Accused of Interfering In Internal Israeli Affairs

YERUSHALAYIM -

 The presence of a U.S. embassy representative at a High Court hearing on Wednesday concerning unauthorized outposts in Yehuda and Shomron prompted a charge of foreign interference in Israeli affairs, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The hearing was held to discuss a Peace Now petition demanding that the state demolish six outposts. However, the Israeli government has informed the Court that it plans to legalize four of them: Givat Assaf, Maaleh Rechavam, Givat Ho-Roeh and Mitzpe Lachish.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel condemned the embassy member’s presence, saying that it was a blatant attempt to interfere with Israeli internal legal procedures.

Embassy spokesman Geoff Anisman denied anything unusual or improper, insisting that U.S. representatives often attend court proceedings and Knesset sessions as part of their routine diplomatic work of monitoring Israeli activity, and parallels operations of embassies in other countries.

However, Peace Now Executive Director Yariv Oppenheimer said that he did not recall seeing a U.S. official at past hearings on the outposts, though he has seen in the past European observers at hearings on human rights issues.

Oppenheimer also read it as politically significant. “I believe the presence of an embassy representative was a message to the government and not to the court, that the issue of the outposts is very important to the U.S,” Oppenheimer said.

The U.S. embassy observer refused to speak to the press.