The Times of Israel is reporting that the US Consulate in Jerusalem is arming and training a force of 35 Palestinians from East Jerusalem to serve as armed guards, a arrangement that violates a 2011 agreement between Israel and the consulate.
According to the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth, only IDF combat veterans should be authorized to carry arms as consulate guards.
“The consulate was authorized to keep roughly 100 handguns for security staff, on condition that they be either American diplomats or Israeli army veterans,” the paper’s Itamar Eichner wrote.
Additionally, Israeli guards at the consulate alleged that the Palestinians were being trained with firearms in Jericho at a Palestinian Preventative Security base and in the United States.
Regional Security Officer Dan Cronin, Israeli guards claimed, “is in effect setting up an armed Palestinian militia in the consulate. They are being trained with weapons, in Krav Maga, and tactical driving. It’s irresponsible. Who can guarantee that such weapons in the hands of Palestinians won’t spread to terror?”
The US Consulate denied a Times of Israel request to speak with Cronin and declined to directly address the assertions in the article. “The US Consulate General in Jerusalem has full confidence in the professionalism of its staff,” a US official said. “We do not discuss the security of our diplomatic missions, but note there are many inaccuracies in the story.”
“In addition,” he said, “we coordinate fully and regularly with local authorities.”
He would not detail the alleged inaccuracies.
Three Israeli security guards have reportedly quit in protest, and say that ” the consulate also keeps machine guns and rifles on the premises, further violating the alleged agreement.” It is being reported that one senior staff member at the Consulate has served time in Israeli prison for membership in the Fatah organization.
Hat tip: Brian B.
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