The American embassy in Israel rejects claims that a confrontation that broke out between security personnel from the consulate and settlers from the Adei Ad outpost saw the Americans drew their arms on the settlers, US diplomats said Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, a local settler leader has urged Israel to expel those US officials involved in the incident, saying they were in fact "spies."
The incident in question took place in the West Bank on Friday, after settlers hurled stones at two vehicles from the consulate. According to both Palestinian and settler sources, the American security guards drew their weapons at the settlers, a claim the Americans now reject.
A source within the Palestinian village of Turmus Ayya, not far from the scene of the incident, said they called the US delegation to the area to examine thousands of olive tree saplings which were uprooted on Thursday night – some belonging to Palestinians from the village who hold American citizenship – allegedly by local settlers.
According to police, the settlers pelted the convoy with rocks, but neither side used their firearms.
The American consulate in Jerusalem has offered to pass Israel a video of the event, in which they claim it is clear that a group of armed settlers surrounded the American delegation, armed with a gun and an M-16 rifle.
A senior consulate source said that US was very concerned at the incident: "We treat the safety of our diplomats very seriously. The Israeli authorities have expressed their concert at the incident and have vowed to work to find those responsible for it and bring them to justice."
"No consulate employee drew their arms during the incident. Reports claiming as much are simply wrong," the official said, adding that the US "monitors economic and political events in the West Bank very closely. "
Head of the Shomron Regional Council, Yossi Dagan – who is taking over for Gershon Meskia, currently being held for his role in a massive corruption scandal – sent a letter to Interior Minister Gilad Erdan urging him to expel those involved in the incident from Israel, he further claimed they were spies.
"As Wikileaks has revealed a number of years ago, the 'officials' are in fact spies and intelligence officials. This time they have participated in a proactive tour together with Palestinians, without properly coordinating with the army or police.
"They pulled firearms on threatened Israeli citizens. This crosses a red line and it is nothing short of a miracle the event didn't end in bloodshed. I request the security guards and spies be expelled from Israel in light of their behavior."
The settlers claimed the Americans arrived to the area without coordination and brought Palestinians into their territory, saying the American visit was coordinated with the Israeli Civil Administration for next week.
Sources familiar with the settlers said two American consulate vehicles pulled up on the southern side of the outpost. Following a report that was shared by the residents, armed men were deployed from the outpost, just as the US representatives were leaving the area.
Elior Levy contributed to this report