Friday, June 10, 2016

The Said and Arshad Show or, What Really Goes On at State Dept. Press Briefings

For the record, June 9, 2016, the Said and Arshad Show:

QUESTION: On the subject of the attacks --
QUESTION: -- the defense minister over there, Avigdor Lieberman, has said that in future Palestinians that are killed while carrying out attacks will – their bodies will not be returned to their families. They’re going to be interred somewhere. Israel has a cemetery for enemies, I think. Is that something that you’re concerned about? Is that – or is that par for the course?
MR TONER: Well, I mean, look – I mean, this is obviously an internal matter for Israel to debate. This is – I think a couple thoughts on that is – one is that we would just hope that any measures that Israel takes would be designed to not escalate tensions any further. But we certainly respect their desire to express outrage and to protect the safety of their people.
QUESTION: Is that an appropriate way to express outrage, to keep the bodies of the killers?
MR TONER: Well, again, we – I guess – again, the dynamic here is that we don’t want to see any further escalation of tensions. That’s something that they obviously should weigh when they consider these kinds of measures.
QUESTION: But you then went on to say that you respected their desire to convey outrage --
MR TONER: Well, I’m talking more specifically about--
QUESTION: -- and that --
MR TONER: -- frankly, about their reaction – or our reaction to their reports that they’re going to freeze entry visas, or permits rather, and they’re also going to plus up their troop --
QUESTION: Well, that was exactly what I wanted to get to next.
QUESTION: I mean, they said that they’re going to revoke permits for 83,000 Palestinians and, as you said, that they’ve said that they’re going to send several hundred more troops to the West Bank.
MR TONER: Right.
QUESTION: I mean, are you trying to say in a very delicate way that that could increase tensions, which presumably it will since it makes it harder for people to work?
MR TONER: I think what I’m trying to say, Arshad, is that we understand the Israeli Government’s desire to protect its citizenry, or its citizens rather, after this kind of terrorist attack, and we strongly support that right. But we would hope that any measures it takes are designed to – would also take into consideration the impact on Palestinian citizens, or civilians rather, who are just going – trying to go about their daily lives.
QUESTION: Yeah. But what about the impact on the victims of this?
MR TONER: I understand that. And which is why I --
QUESTION: I mean, I’m not sure exactly how it is that the Israelis are escalating tensions here.
MR TONER: Matt, I’m simply saying that --
QUESTION: I mean, two guys went into a restaurant with a --
MR TONER: I understand that. And that’s why --
QUESTION: -- started shooting people point blank.
MR TONER: And why I prefaced my response by saying that we understand their desire to protect their citizens and to send a message, but we would only urge that any measures that it takes be done under – with the consideration towards the many innocent Palestinians who are simply trying to go about their daily lives.
QUESTION: So what does that mean? Does that mean you frown upon the measures that they are taking and think that they are escalating tensions? Or does this fall into the purview of being an appropriate response to a terrorist attack?
MR TONER: I think ultimately, first of all, that’s something for the Israeli Government to ultimately decide about, decide on. I’m just simply trying to give a full sense of the dynamics here, which are that this is going to affect thousands of Palestinian civilians who are, again, just trying to go about their daily lives.
QUESTION: Right. Tens of thousands of civilian – Palestinian civilians.
MR TONER: Tens of thousands. Correct.
QUESTION: But the initial attack affects the lives of --
MR TONER: Of course. And I strongly --
QUESTION: -- many, many, many Israelis.
MR TONER: I understand that as well.
QUESTION: Let me just follow up on this. Now, the Israelis --
MR TONER: And I strongly condemn these attacks.
MR TONER: Please.
QUESTION: The Israelis thus far are saying that it was an individual. They could not tie it to any particular group and so on. So in this regard, and since they said that thus far there is no evidence indicating that they belong to any one group, are you calling on the Israelis to – for restraint and if – I know you alluded to that in your response to Matt and Arshad. But are you calling on them to sort of refrain from, let’s say, vengeful thing against Yatta, the village which is now completely besieged? They come from a village in Hebron where they have been – the village has been subjected to a great many attacks by the settlers. Are you calling on the Israelis to refrain or have a restrained response against the village of Yatta or other places in the West Bank?
MR TONER: Said, again – and let me be very clear – we condemn yesterday’s attack. We completely understand the right of Israeli authorities to ensure the security of their civilians and to carry out measures that they believe will, in fact, provide for that security. I would simply caution – and we’ve said this before – that in carrying out those kinds of measures that they do take into consideration the impact on innocent Palestinians and that they exercise restraint.
QUESTION: Have you been in contact with the Palestinian Authority or with – I know you have probably been in contact with Israelis on this incident or other possible incidents on their coordination, security coordination with the Israelis. Weeks back --
QUESTION: -- the head of the Palestinian security claimed that they thwarted some, like, 200 attacks and so on. Are you in touch with them on this issue?
MR TONER: Said, I’m not sure that we’ve been seen this attack yesterday. But I can – I know that we’re in regular contact, talking about these security issues.
QUESTION: Okay. And I just wanted to ask you, Fatah, whose head is actually the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – they issued a statement basically saying that Israel must realize the consequences of its persistence to punish violence – to push violence and house demolition policies for its displacement of Palestinians, raze on Israeli – by Israeli settlers and so on. So is that – how do you perceive their – the statement of this group, which you basically support? You support the authority.
MR TONER: So a couple of things. There were a number of statements yesterday. I think President Abbas made a statement rejecting all violence against civilians regardless – and I’m quoting here – regardless of their identity and irrespective of the justifications. We certainly support the spirit and the words of President Abbas. We have consistently called on the Palestinians to condemn terrorist attacks, and this incident’s no different.
There was also a statement by Hamas that we found deeply troubling that essentially tried to glorify the attack. And there was also a statement, as you mention, by Fatah – a Fatah official, rather, that – saying it was somehow justified. And again, we reject that. There’s no justification for these kinds of terrorist attacks.
QUESTION: You saw the statement from Hizballah?
MR TONER: I believe so. And we --
QUESTION: You also have issues with that --
MR TONER: We would, yes.
QUESTION: -- with what it’s saying? Okay.
QUESTION: One thing. I misspoke. I suggested that the permits that had been canceled were work permits, but they were not. They were to visit relatives.
MR TONER: That’s correct, yeah. Yeah. Thank you for clarifying that. Yeah, just entry permits.


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