The State Department on Wednesday publicly reprimanded a top Israeli minister who said a Palestinian village in the West Bank should be "wiped out," and warned that both sides need to allow tensions to ease after several days of violence.
Earlier Wednesday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich singled out the town of Huwara after a Palestinian from that village shot and killed two Israelis in the West Bank on Sunday.
"The village of Huwara needs to be wiped out. I think that the State of Israel needs to do that – not, God forbid, private individuals," Smotrich said.
"These comments were irresponsible, they were repugnant, they were disgusting, and just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amount to incitement to violence," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in response hours later. "We call on Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials to publicly and clearly reject and disavow these comments."
After the two Israeli settlers were killed on Sunday, hundreds of Israelis reacted by burning cars and homes. Price said both sides need to take a step back from further violence.
"We have seen far too much violence, far too much bloodshed," Price said. "We have roundly condemned and rejected the terrorist attacks that Israel has suffered in recent days."
"In recent says we’ve also seen violence from settlers in the West Bank, violence that has resulted in the loss of life, the destruction of property," he said.
Price urged both sides to follow through on an agreement reached on Sunday in Aqaba, Jordan, between Jordanian, Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinians that reaffirms their commitment to a "just and lasting peace."
"What is most important is implementation of what resulted in Aqaba," Price said.