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Gilboa crossing (archives) Photo: Hagai Aharon
Gilboa crossing (archives) Photo: Hagai Aharon
 
 

US diplomat against Israeli security guards

Senior American Consulate official refuses to have Israeli guard check US diplomats' cars. 'What if there are settlers among them? I will not have my people end up like Rabin,' he says

Itamar Eichner
Published: 01.26.10, 09:44 / Israel News

A senior American diplomat recently told representatives of the Israeli Defense and Foreign ministries, "I don't want your security officers to check our cars. What if there are settlers among them? I will not have my people end up like (slain Prime Minister Yitzhak) Rabin."

 

The remark was made by Tim Laas, the regional security officer at the American Consulate in Jerusalem, during a discussion in the office of Deputy Inspector General Meir Ben-Yishai, head of security at the Israel Police.

 

The discussion was held following a serious diplomatic incident, which took place about two months ago at the Gilboa crossing in the Jenin area, when a Defense Ministry inspectors stationed at crossing between Israel and the Palestinian Authority stopped a convoy of vehicles belonging to the American Consulate.

 

The security guards asked the convoy passengers to identify themselves, but the latter refused to open a door or a window and barricaded themselves inside the vehicles in protest of the Israeli demand to run a security check, blocking the crossing for hours.

 

The discussion's protocol revealed that the American representatives made rude gestures to a female security guard, and one of the Palestinian drivers tried to run over another security guard.

 

According to another claim, the convoy's passengers attempted to smuggle a Palestinian woman without a stay permit into Israel. The American representatives said in response that the woman was a translator working at the consulate.

 

'We are not a Coca Cola truck'

Following the incident, the Defense Ministry filed a complaint with the Foreign Ministry against the American Embassy and is considering filing a complaint with the police against the Palestinian drivers.

 

Laas said during the discussion, "It's inconceivable that American diplomats should have to open a door to identify themselves. I find it unacceptable to have a simple guard run a security check on senior officials and diplomats. We are not a Coca Cola truck."

 

A representative of the American Embassy apologized for the incident during the meeting. Foreign Ministry representative Gil Lainer said that "there are procedures and rules and they must be honored."

 

Deputy Inspector General Ben-Yishai concluded the discussion by saying that the Americans acted inappropriately and that the security guards were simply trying to check the Palestinians driving the vehicles.

 

At the end of the discussion it was decided to form new procedures, according to which only Palestinian drivers would be checked and passengers refusing to identify themselves would be detained for an unlimited period of time.

 

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