By Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration rejected comparisons between Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
“We categorically reject the blanket comparison between [Israel’s occupation and] the actions of the Kremlin – Russia in this case – that has launched and waged a brutal war of aggression against another sovereign state, a sovereign state that posed and poses no threat whatsoever to the Kremlin, a military campaign… whose toll can be measured in thousands upon thousands of lives lost,” Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, said Thursday.
Price was reacting to a reporter’s question prompted by a statement the same day by Navi Pillay, the chairwoman of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into Israel’s activities in the West Bank.
The COI report concluded that Israel’s 55-year-old occupation of the West Bank had become so entrenched it was now de facto annexation. Pillay, in the statement attached to the release of the report, said that the U.N. General Assembly’s recent condemnation of Russia for annexing four areas of Ukraine would be rendered meaningless if the United Nations did not adopt her commission’s report.
In a press briefing, Price enumerated the differences the Biden administration saw between the Israel and Russia situations, among them that Russia faced no threat from Ukraine prior to launching its war against the country, and that the West Bank is not Palestinian sovereign territory.
He said that Israel should not be immune from criticism and that the Biden administration remains committed to a two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he added that the United Nations frequently unfairly singles out Israel for criticism.
“No country is or should be immune from criticism. That, of course, includes Israel,” he said. “Some of the criticism that we’ve heard – and we’ve, of course, offered our own over the course of recent months – is justified. Much of it is not.”