Thursday, January 09, 2014

Is Being Jewish Being 'Final'?

I caught this:

U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Marie Harf told reporters that she would not comment directly on Israel’s report of incitement from Palestinian Authority leadership, but that rebukes are being made behind closed doors.At a press briefing in Washington on Monday, Harf said “we make those discussions private,” according to a transcript of her comments.“I’m not saying we don’t register complaints… I’m just saying we don’t always do it publicly,” she said in response to a reporter’s question.


But, always the issue of "illegal construction of/in the settlements" somehow is very public.

Ms. Harf, exactly when were the Pals. ever publicly given a State Department dressing down?

And while we're on the subject of State Department briefings, how about this one byJen Psaki on January 8, 2014 :

QUESTION: In the broad scheme of things, does the United States want the Arab world to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to – what I’m trying not to do here, Matt, is – obviously, you know what our position is. You know what the Israelis would like to see. This is part of the discussions in the negotiations. Beyond that, I’m not going to further outline here what is being discussed with all of the parties.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, maybe I’m not making myself – I’m not talking about the negotiations.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: In general, does the United States want to see the Arab world – the Arab League, the members of the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, whatever – recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
MS. PSAKI: We want to see them support, which they’ve indicated they would, a final status agreement between the parties. What is included in there is not yet determined.
QUESTION: Jen, if I may follow up.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Does the United States of America recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
MS. PSAKI: I think you know what our position is, Said.
QUESTION: I’m not asking your position.
MS. PSAKI: We’ve talked about their --
QUESTION: A legal point of view. How do you recognize Israel?
MS. PSAKI: Said, I don't have anything more for you on this.

Allow me to restate that:

Q.  Does the United States want to see the Arab world recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
A. We want to see them support a final status agreement between the parties. What is included in there is not yet determined.

Does that sound good to you?



QUESTION: Well, the reason that I’m asking is because of some – because I think as part of some of the comments that Erekat made that Said was talking about in this interview that was published on Friday in which he said that the agreement that the Palestinians signed up for says nothing about going beyond the target – the nine-month target date, and there won’t be – not even one minute – and there won’t be anything after that. So that would seem to be at least problematic. MS. HARF: But I think at times he actually says he was open to an extension, as has President Abbas, I think. QUESTION: I know. All right. Another thing he said in those comments was that he fears for President Abbas’s life because the Israelis poisoned/killed Arafat, which – can I just get – what does the U.S. make of comments like that? MS. HARF: Well, you probably won’t like this answer, but what I am not going to do is stand up here and do analysis on every public comment that someone makes. QUESTION: Well, is it the U.S. -- MS. HARF: I’m just not. QUESTION: What’s the U.S. understanding? Did the Israelis poison Arafat? MS. HARF: That’s certainly not my understanding. I think we’ve addressed this many times in the past. QUESTION: Okay. So when one – so when one side – and this gets back to my questions about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments standing next to Secretary Kerry last week, which you didn’t want to comment on. But when one side or when a senior official from one side gets up and says something that you believe is outrageously false, not correct, don’t you have – don’t you think that you have an obligation to come out and say, “Look, that’s wrong and that’s not helping the situation”? MS. HARF: And as I’ve said, I do think we do, but we make those discussions private -- QUESTION: So what are -- MS. HARF: -- for a very good reason, that we’re not going to -- QUESTION: Okay. MS. HARF: -- get in a tit-for-tat publicly. If we have issues with things either side says or either side does, we have those discussions privately and keep them as a part of these private discussions because we think that’s the best way to make progress here. QUESTION: You don’t – so you think that – so when the -- MS. HARF: So I’m not saying we don’t register complaints. QUESTION: But the -- MS. HARF: I’m just saying we don’t always do it publicly. QUESTION: Well, so what is the Arab-speaking public supposed to think, then, about the U.S. position about this if all you’re willing to do is to tell Erekat, “Don’t say things like this,” to say that to him privately? I don’t get it. It would seem to me if that you give an interview to a major Arabic-language newspaper which is going to be read online and in print all over the region in which he asserts – the chief Palestinian negotiator asserts that Israel killed Arafat, and you guys don’t come out and publicly say, one, we don’t believe or we think or we know that that’s factually inaccurate; and two, this is not the kind of thing that’s going to get progress anywhere; or three, it’s certainly not the kind of thing that prepares or helps prepare the Palestinian people for what you hope will be an eventual peace deal. It gets back to what Prime Minister Netanyahu said about incitement when he was standing next to Kerry. Either you believe that the prime minister is right and that this Palestinian official is wrong, or you don’t. QUESTION: And what is the trouble with just -- QUESTION: And I think you have to say – you have to – but – and staying silent on it, I don’t see how – can you explain to me how it is that you think that helps? MS. HARF: Well, publicly silent is different than privately silent. And again, nobody’s privately silent. If you’ve ever met the Secretary or Ambassador Indyk, nobody’s privately silent. In terms of the good – and then I will get back to – I think there was a question somewhere in there – that in terms of good faith, what we’re – how we judge that is that the parties remain at the table negotiating seriously and – no, but they do – seriously, substantively, and we’re making progress towards getting a framework. Going out and saying something in an interview is one thing, but what we’re focused on is, at the table, making progress on getting a framework in place, and then moving forward with the negotiations. QUESTION: But how can you judge the sincerity of their negotiations if the minute the negotiations are done they leave the room and they’re trashing the other party publicly? MS. HARF: Again, these are complicated issues. They’re sensitive issues. I’m not going to do an analysis of what everyone says publicly. We’re focused on what the parties do at the table. QUESTION: Okay. I’m not saying analysis. I’m – okay, so don’t analyze everyone, but let’s talk about a pattern on each side of sitting next to Secretary Kerry and telling him very nice things and being – making progress on these – on all these issues; and then the minute they leave the room, they completely trash both the process and the other party. MS. HARF: Well, there’s a long history of mistrust on both sides. QUESTION: So which is the real Israeli and which is the real Palestinian? The one that’s sitting -- MS. HARF: I think that’s a much bigger question, Elise, than we can address at this podium. Honestly, I do. What we can judge people on is their actions, what they do at the negotiating table -- QUESTION: Well, their actions – going out speaking very negatively against the other party is an action. MS. HARF: I’m not saying we always welcome every time people go out and speak about this. That’s why we’ve purposefully made it quiet. And to be fair, I haven’t seen Mr. – Dr. Erekat – excuse me – his specific comments. I haven’t seen them. I’m happy to check with our folks and see if there’s a response. What I am saying in general is that there’s a lot of churn out there, there’s a lot of people talking, and there – we always knew that would be the case. There always is. That’s why we have to focus on what we do at the table. QUESTION: But if you’re an honest broker and you still claim to be an honest broker – “claim” is maybe the wrong word – you believe that you still are an honest broker in this. MS. HARF: Absolutely. QUESTION: Don’t you have an obligation to speak out when someone says something that is not honest, when something is dishonest? I don’t see how it – I don’t – you have to -- MS. HARF: Again, I haven’t seen – I actually haven’t seen those specific comments. QUESTION: Okay. Well, I can pull them up and read them to you, but he says that he’s worried about -- MS. HARF: I always like it when you do that. QUESTION: -- President Abbas’s life because the Israelis killed Arafat, which, I mean, I just don’t understand why you think that it is – it would be not helpful to come out and -- MS. HARF: I’m not saying I’m not going to have a response to that. I, quite frankly, just hadn’t seen it. QUESTION: All right. MS. HARF: I’m not saying I don’t want to respond to that. What I am saying is that broadly speaking, sometimes we register complaints privately because we think it’s more effective to do it that way, and sometimes we come out publicly and say things as well. QUESTION: Okay. Because it -- MS. HARF: But there’s also a difference between commenting when the Secretary is there on the ground having meetings than when he’s not. There’s obviously a delicate dance we’re all doing here. QUESTION: Right, I understand. MS. HARF: And I know you understand that. QUESTION: But it seems to me that – like when the Israelis announce new settlements, you come out and publicly say you think it’s a bad idea. And I don’t understand why it is when the Palestinians say something that’s inflammatory, then -- MS. HARF: Well, it’s just not a one-to-one comparison. QUESTION: Well -- MS. HARF: It’s not. QUESTION: You’re – well, you’re right, because -- MS. HARF: Every situation is different. QUESTION: That’s right, because the settlements actually change something on the ground; and the Palestinian comments, while they might be offensive to the Israelis and might be offensive to others, they don’t actually change the situation on the ground.  [really?  they don't incite to terror???] MS. HARF: Which is an argument for not always commenting on every public comment. QUESTION: Well, but the point that -- MS. HARF: You just made my point for me. QUESTION: No, because the point that Prime Minister Netanyahu made is that the Palestinians are not – the leadership is not preparing the Palestinian people for an eventual peace deal -- MS. HARF: And I -- QUESTION: -- and these kind of comments would not seem to be helpful in preparing -- MS. HARF: Again, I’ll take a look at these specific comments. QUESTION: All right. Thank you. 

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