Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kerry, ISIL, Israel

"As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL coalition, the truth is we – there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt – and I see a lot of heads nodding – they had to respond to. And people need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity, and Eid celebrates the opposite of all of that." 

That was from Secretary of State John Kerry's 

Remarks at a Reception in Honor of Eid al-Adha at the Delegates Lounge in Washington, DC on October 16, 2014 

and now we have this from a State Dept. press conference from Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson, on October 17, 2014:

QUESTION: To the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? I’d like to come back to, return to the remarks Secretary Kerry made yesterday. He said that it’s imperative to re-launch the peace process, something he did in Cairo two, three days ago. But I think, for the first time, he made the connection, a link between the conflict and the rise of extremism and the rise of ISIL. And this morning the Israeli officials are pretty upset and angered against the Secretary.

So I would like to know if the Secretary --

MS. HARF: Well, yeah.

QUESTION: -- went a little bit too far.

MS. HARF: A couple comments. First, he did not make any linkage between Israel and the growth of ISIL, period. And we can go back over what he actually said, which I have in front of me. He did not make that linkage. What he was saying is in the course of his work, do leaders in Europe and in the Middle East tell him that they like that the U.S. wants to try to achieve peace? Of course they do. Do the leaders think peace would help create a more stable region? Of course they do. That is in no way a news flash. It’s something that presidents of both parties for decades have said, that if we could make progress on Middle East peace, that would help create a more stable region, and the Secretary was agreeing with what has been said publicly.

And I would take issue with the part of your question that Israeli leaders, plural, have disagreed with what they thought the Secretary said. I saw one in particular. And we would say to that that we know passions run high, politics are intense, but either this specific minister did not actually read what the Secretary said, or someone is engaging in the politics of distortion here. By any means it is an inaccurate reading of what the Secretary said. He did not make a linkage between Israel and the growth of ISIL, period.

And there's a follow-up"-

QUESTION: So you think that those leaders that told the Secretary of State there is a linkage, in fact, they’re expressing a sentiment of hate toward --MS. HARF: Well, that’s not what he was saying. He was saying that as he travels around the world --QUESTION: I understand.MS. HARF: Well, can I finish my sentence, Said?QUESTION: He was saying that that’s what – oh, sure.MS. HARF: And then you can follow up. Thank you.QUESTION: Sorry.MS. HARF: That as he travels around the world building a global coalition to defeat ISIL, which is an avowed enemy of Israel – the Secretary, helping to put together this coalition to defeat an enemy that has said they’re an avowed enemy of Israel, that he hears from people in conversations, as we have for many years, that if we could resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that would help create a more stable region. In no way was he directly linking Israel and the growth of ISIL, at all.QUESTION: But you know, this is a story that goes way back. And I remember in the ‘70s, let’s say, with your close allies, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its foreign minister, or the king at the time, King Faisal, was always saying that not resolving this issue may lead to extremism or people will exploit it, as you said.MS. HARF: Absolutely, and American presidents --QUESTION: So there is a connection.MS. HARF: Well, American presidents and secretaries of state of both parties have said that if we can achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians, it would be a blow to the region’s extremists. Yes, they’ve said that. But in terms of this specific Israeli minister’s comments, I think, and I think the Secretary thinks, and everyone thinks that what you say actually matters and not just how someone tries to distort it for their own political purposes....QUESTION: Yeah, sorry. Has the Secretary talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu since these comments and the flap?MS. HARF: I can double check.QUESTION: Thank you.MS. HARF: They talk frequently. I will check.

What do you think?


What Khaled Abu-Toameh thinks.  Zero.

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