In his first public dispute with the Biden administration, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett rejected criticism of Israel’s decision to demolish the family home of a Palestinian accused in a terrorist murder perpetrated in May.
Nineteen-year-old yeshiva student Yehuda Guetta Hy”d was killed in a drive-by shooting at the Tapuach Junction, where two others were also wounded.
Photos of the demolition were carried in the global media on Thursday.
The U.S. embassy in Yerusalayim issued a statement saying that “the home of an entire family should not be demolished for the actions of one individual,” referring to suspect Muntasir Shalabi.
“We believe it is critical for all parties to refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution; this certainly includes the punitive demolition of Palestinian homes,” a spokesperson added.
A response from Bennett’s office later made clear that he did not accept the American condemnation.
“The prime minister admires and respects the American administration. However, he acts only in accordance with the security considerations of the State of Israel and in defending the lives of Israeli citizens,” a source in his office was quoted by Israeli media as saying.
On Wednesday, there were media reports that the U.S. had privately asked Israel to hold off on the demolition.