US defense chief urges Israel to address settler violence against Palestinians
Lloyd Austin 'urged Minister Gallant to address extremist settler violence against Palestinian civilians,' says Pentagon
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged Israeli authorities to curtail settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
During his telephone call with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Austin "urged Minister Gallant to address extremist settler violence against Palestinian civilians and continue the Israeli Ministry of Defense's efforts to improve economic opportunities for Palestinians in the West Bank," the Defense Department said in a statement.
Austin also "called for Palestinian leaders to condemn terrorism and take active steps to prevent violence," and further emphasized the "urgent need for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to take meaningful steps to ensure stability in the West Bank."
Amid ongoing civil unrest in the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu securing a key piece of his plans to overhaul the country’s judiciary, Austin "underscored the United States' belief that broad consensus through political dialogue, especially in the coming weeks and months, are critical elements of a resilient democracy," said the Pentagon.
Israelis opposed to the controversial plan to reform the judiciary vowed to persist with nationwide protests despite parliament’s approval of a bill that strictly curtails the powers of the judiciary.
The bill approved Monday restricted the Supreme Court's power to overrule the government’s actions. Its passage was followed by mass demonstrations that paralyzed major roadways and saw a heavy-handed police crackdown.
More than 11,000 Israeli military reservists threatened last week to resign if the government went ahead with their plans in what could be a major blow to Israeli military security. But it is not clear if they have all resigned in the wake of Monday's vote.
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