AP Reporter Grills State Department Spokesman About Cautioning Israel to Exercise Restraint Following Deadly Tel Aviv Terrorist Attack
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner was grilled on Friday by an Associated Press reporter about double standards being applied to Israel.
Responding to comments Toner made in his weekly press conference in relation to Wednesday night’s deadly terrorist attack in Tel Aviv — cautioning Israel to exercise “restraint” — AP‘s Matthew Lee belabored the point.
“Do you recall ever feeling the need to advise, to warn, to urge governments in Europe to use restraint as they respond, when they respond to terrorist attacks?” he asked.
Toner replied: “I can’t come up with an instance, no.”
Lee continued, “Is the situation with the Israelis and the Palestinians just so unique that you think that it is required?”
Toner answered, “Well, again — so a couple of thoughts on that, actually. First of all, these are — this is an ongoing conflict that involves two parties… We don’t want to see tensions exacerbated on either side, and we realize that when these senseless acts of violence and terrorism take place, that they only escalate tensions, understandably. We want to see a diminution of violence — we want to see an end to violence, we want to see a diminution of tensions. With that understanding and that awareness, that we do comment on the actions that Israel has taken. And frankly — and I’m not pointing the finger at anyone else, but if another country, we felt, were taking severe or draconian measures in the wake of some kind of attack, we might also comment. I’m not saying that this is that case, but I’m saying we might. You’ve actually done well. You forced me to answer a hypothetical – always a bad idea.”
Lee persisted: “So you do not believe — you do or you do not believe that the measures that they have taken, that the Israelis have taken, are severe and draconian?”
“Again,” said Toner, “I’m not going to characterize them.”