Tuesday, March 02, 2021

A Return to the Hansell Memorandum?

From a State Department Press Briefing conducted on March 1, 2021 by Ned Price, Department Spokesperson:

QUESTION: Just briefly on Israel and Palestine. Has the State Department reversed the – Mr. Pompeo’s determination that the settlements in the occupied territories are not necessarily illegal?

MR PRICE: So we wouldn’t comment on any internal deliberative processes here, and that’s a rule across the board. What we would stress is that our focus is on encouraging Israel and the Palestinians to avoid, as I said before, unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and that make it more difficult to preserve the viability of a two-state solution.

QUESTION: So is it under review, then? Is it under review?

MR PRICE: Again, we’re not going to comment on any internal deliberative process.

QUESTION: Well, wait, wait, does that – that suggests that there is a deliberative process going on.

MR PRICE: We —

QUESTION: So the previous administration, when it came to a conclusion that it did not think that the Hansell Memorandum * was appropriate or accurate, came out and announced it. Will this administration, if it determines that either you’re going to keep it – the previous administration’s position – or change it, will you announce it? Or is that now a deliberative process that you won’t talk about?

MR PRICE: What I would stress is that what will not change is our longstanding position – our position and the longstanding position of successive administrations, is that —

QUESTION: Well, except for the last – well, except for the last one.

MR PRICE: — is – is encouraging – is discouraging, excuse me – unilateral steps that would put a two-state solution further out of reach. If we have —

MR PRICE: If we have something more to say on this, we will say it.

QUESTION: So there is no change right now?

MR PRICE: We have nothing – we have nothing more to announce. If we do, we will announce it.

QUESTION: All right.

And on the issue of UNRWA, there was this exchange:

QUESTION: Now, Ned, last week you issued a statement on the meeting of the AHLC, the Ad Hoc Committee. Now, there was no mention normally – on Palestine – there was no mention of UNRWA or restoring aid, or let’s say aiding the hospitals in East Jerusalem and so on. So tell us about what’s going on with UNRWA. Are you resuming aid to UNRWA? Is it going to be retroactive aid? Is it happening now? Is it not happening?

MR PRICE: Said, I think as you’ve heard me say before, we intend to provide assistance that will benefit all Palestinians, including refugees. We are in the process of determining how to move forward on resuming all forms of that assistance consistent with U.S. law.

QUESTION: But we’re not talking about refugees, we’re talking about UNRWA. Are you going to resume aid to UNRWA?

MR PRICE: Said, we have said before —

QUESTION: Very simple, UNRWA is – you’ve aided UNRWA all throughout its existence. Now, are you going to resume that aid, or are you not going to resume that?

MR PRICE: I don’t have anything new for you today beyond saying and reiterating that we intend to provide assistance that will benefit all Palestinians, including refugees.

________

*

That memorandum concluded that

the establishment of the civilian settlements in those territories is inconsistent with international law

On the flaws of that opinion see

International Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich

International Law Professor Avi Bell (in converstion with Eve Harow)

Former Ambassador Alan Baker 

The Kohelet Forum and its Conference

Former Ambassador David M. Friedman

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

^

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