"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS
1:23 p.m. EDT
QUESTION: Can we go to Israel?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Did you want an update now?
QUESTION: First, do you have any update on the American citizen who was detained and that was then put under house arrest?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t know if I have much of an update since yesterday, Matt, but let me provide you --
QUESTION: Well, has he been – has anyone gone to visit him? Have you looked at his – has he – is his health okay?
MS. PSAKI: Well first, our – we visited him in the – an official from the U.S. Consulate General visited him on July 5th and attended his hearing on July 6th. We’ve also seen the family. I don’t have anything else to read out for you in terms of his health.
Obviously, this is a case where we remain deeply concerned about the reports. In fact, we remain shocked that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly have condemned that, and any use of excessive force, of course. We’re calling – and I would reiterate our call for a speedy and transparent and credible investigation. As I understand it, he’s been interviewed for that, and so that’s moving forward.
QUESTION: You remain shocked?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we are shocked.
QUESTION: You’re shocked --
QUESTION: Well, it sounds like --
QUESTION: You’re shocked when a --
MS. PSAKI: We continue to be shocked.
QUESTION: What you were saying, I think on Thursday or in your statements over the weekend, that you remain concerned about reports that he was apparently beaten. And now you’re saying that you’re shocked that he was beaten. So it seems as if like – it doesn’t seem as if there’s any doubt, really, now. I mean, there might be a doubt as to how it happened, or the extent of it, or whether what he did – the Israeli Ambassador said that he was provoking, that he wasn’t an innocent bystander, that kind of implied that he asked for it.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Elise, a couple things, as you know, happened over the weekend. One, of course, we – our consulate – a representative from our Consulate General was able to see him. And obviously, he’s been released and is with his family now at this time. And of course, I’ve seen the comments, and our view is an arrest is justified for anyone who is guilty of committing a crime. And obviously, there’s an investigation; there’ll be a process to review that. But beating an arrestee after they are subdued and in custody is never justified. So we will let the process see itself through. But certainly, we’ve all seen him and we’ve been in touch with him, and we are continuing to call for a credible investigation.
QUESTION: Have you formally demarched the Israeli Government about it?
MS. PSAKI: We’ve been in close touch with the government, but I’m not aware of a specific demarche.
QUESTION: Do you have any concerns about the – an Israeli investigation into this incident?
MS. PSAKI: We’ve seen Prime Minister Netanyahu and other officials express strong concern about a range of these reports, and they’ve expressed a commitment to seeing through an investigation.
QUESTION: All right. Now meanwhile, in southern Israel --
QUESTION: Well, can we just stay on this for one second?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I understand that Secretary Kerry spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu over the weekend. Was this case in particular brought up, or was it about the larger kind of escalating violence?
MS. PSAKI: He reiterated – the Secretary did speak with the prime minister about a range of incidents that are happening on the ground, Elise. And certainly, the focus was on reiterating our concern about escalating tensions. And the Secretary, of course, urged Prime Minister Netanyahu – as he’s urged both parties – to exercise restraint and avoid steps that could further destabilize the situation.
QUESTION: Did he speak to prime – President Abbas?
MS. PSAKI: He has spoken with him over the course of the last several days or week. I don’t – let me see if I have anything specific over the last – he spoke with him – let’s see – I know last Tuesday. He’s been in – I think it’s important to reiterate here we’ve been in touch on the ground very closely with both parties.
QUESTION: Well, but you’ve seen the comments that are coming out of Hamas. And now that the U.S. has, in effect, kind of accepted the fact that Hamas is now in this unity government, you would think that as leader of this unity government it would be incumbent on President Abbas to rein in or take – try and maintain some kind of control over the activities of Hamas. Isn’t that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re right. I mean, we’ve stated – you’re right in the sense that we have stated from the beginning that we would judge the interim government by its actions, composition, and policies. And based on what we know now, this hasn’t changed. We don’t believe that Hamas plays a role in the government. However, to your point, it is difficult to see how other aspects of the reconciliation process can move forward in this current atmosphere, and we’ve conveyed that as well.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, I understand that you – that maybe it’s a technicality that Hamas doesn’t play a part in this government, but it is a unity government that includes Hamas. And I’m just wondering, now does President Abbas more so than ever bear responsibility for the actions of Hamas?
MS. PSAKI: No. But we have – President Abbas himself has suggested that there would be serious consequences for whatever party carried out the crimes that we’ve been talking about over the last several weeks. And as I mentioned, it’s difficult for us to see, given this current atmosphere, how other aspects of the reconciliation process could continue.
QUESTION: Just one quick last one. Did Secretary Kerry mention the specific case of this Israeli – Palestinian teen that was beaten?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other further details, but I think it’s safe to assume when he’s talking about the escalating tensions on the ground, he’s talking about all of the reports that you’ve seen in the news that we’ve all been discussing.
QUESTION: Did you have a response, reaction – and forgive me if I missed it – to the Palestinian teenager who was killed, the cousin of this – or did that happen over the --
MS. PSAKI: I believe we’ve put out something over the weekend. I can double-check that and certainly --
QUESTION: Okay. Thus far, have you seen both sides exercising the kind of restraint that you think is necessary?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, typically you convey that to parties when you feel there’s more that needs to be done.
QUESTION: All right. On the --
QUESTION: Jen --
QUESTION: On the – you say it’s difficult to see how other aspects of the reconciliation can go ahead. Can you be more specific about that? What other aspects?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, there’s – obviously there’s the formation of the interim technocratic government, but there’s also the reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah, and we feel that obviously, there are a range of circumstances on the ground that make it difficult to see how things can move forward at this time.
QUESTION: So you think that he should stop the reconciliation?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ll leave that up to him, but obviously, there are a range of circumstances on the ground that we feel make it difficult.
QUESTION: Okay. In those circumstances, have you gotten 100 definitive evidence or proof that the – that Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping and the – of the three Israeli youths?
MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed since we discussed this last week when we talked about the patterns and --
QUESTION: So you’re still not convinced that Hamas was behind it?
MS. PSAKI: That wasn’t what we said – what we’ve stated. We’ve obviously pointed to the patterns --
QUESTION: No, I understand that, but --
MS. PSAKI: -- but I don’t have – there’s an ongoing investigation, as you know, that hasn’t concluded.
QUESTION: So when you talk about the situation on the ground making it difficult to see – making it difficult for you to see how the other aspects – that refers not to the kidnapping specifically but to the rocket attacks? There have been almost 80, I think, just today. Do you have anything to say about the rocket attacks into southern Israel from --
MS. PSAKI: Well, and I’d also point you, Matt, to the raising tensions and the increasing violence on the ground, as those are all aspects that certainly impact what’s happening on the ground.
QUESTION: Well, wait. Do you have any reaction to the – anything to say about the rockets? I mean, the Israelis say that this is really ramping up the tensions.
MS. PSAKI: Well, correct. As you know, I mean, anytime there are rocket attacks into Israel, we certainly condemn those and we would do so in this case as well. And there’s no place for violence and increasing tension as we’re seeing on the ground. We don’t feel that’s productive to a peaceful society.
QUESTION: Jen, the small cabinet, the security cabinet, just finished a meeting like an hour or so ago, and they decided to continue with their – with targeting targets in Gaza. Are you talking to anyone – like perhaps the Egyptians – to see if they could somehow broker a quieting period or a quiet-down period? Because it seems this thing is really escalating out of control, isn’t it?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, we – as I mentioned, we strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire into Israel, but we also support Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks. I think the Secretary’s calls have also reiterated the need to reduce tensions and decrease violence, and that’s part of the discussion that we’re having with both parties at this time.
QUESTION: What about the area of bombardment by the Israeli Air Force of Gaza? I mean, they killed nine yesterday, today they killed a woman and injured a child, and in fact it’s ongoing as we speak now. Are you calling on the Israelis to sort of hold back or restrain themselves at this point?
MS. PSAKI: I think I just answered the question on the Israelis.
QUESTION: Okay. Let me ask you about the teenage boy. He – you said he was released, but in fact, he was sentenced to 10 days under house arrest.
MS. PSAKI: Said he was released --
QUESTION: Is that satisfactory to you?
MS. PSAKI: He’s under house arrest with his family, yes.
QUESTION: Okay. And that is fine with you that he was sentenced to 10 days under house arrest?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I think we’ve been – pretty strongly conveyed how we feel. Circumstances around this case are not fine, but that’s an update on where things stand. His – he was asked to post bail. He’s restricted to his uncle’s home. He’s permitted to visit medical facilities. And if the investigation is concluded properly, as we expect, he should be able to return to Florida as planned with his family later this month.
QUESTION: Well, when you say that you want it to be conducted properly, what are you saying? That if a fair – free and fair investigation that’s unimpeded will probably illustrate that he had no wrongdoing and will be able to leave on his own reconnaissance?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to prejudge the outcome, but I think obviously, as we see these things move forward, we feel that if they move forward adequately, that he’ll be able to return with his family to the United States.
QUESTION: Did the Palestinian raise with you the fact that they are suffering from a deficit, a reduction of 62 percent in their budget? Have they spoken to you about their financial conditions?
MS. PSAKI: We have regular conversations with the Palestinians about their economic needs. As you know, we provide a great deal of assistance, and we’re in close touch through our consulate on the ground.
QUESTION: To follow --
QUESTION: But as far as you’re concerned, it’s – you’re not aware that any U.S. funds are being held up at the present time?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve spoken to this before. Obviously, we constantly review these, and Congress is in the position to make decisions about what funds will and won’t move forward. But beyond that, I don’t have any other update.
QUESTION: Can I change the topic?
QUESTION: Wait, one more?
QUESTION: The last time before this that you called for an investigation – an Israeli investigation into something – at least I think it was the last time – one of the last times – was the shooting of the – shooting deaths of the two Palestinian teenagers. Do you recall what the outcome of the Israeli investigation was into that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details on that in front of me, Matt.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, I’m just – okay. Could someone take a look at what the results of that investigation was and see if the results were acceptable, if you thought that they were an accurate representation of what happened?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s also important to note here, Matt, that Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials have pointed to their desire to hold those accountable who are guilty of excessive --
QUESTION: I’m not saying that I don’t – that – I’m not casting doubt on that.
MS. PSAKI: The context is --
QUESTION: I’m just wondering what the --
MS. PSAKI: The context is important. That’s why I mentioned it.
QUESTION: One more?
MS. PSAKI: Do we have more on this? Go ahead, Lucas.
QUESTION: Senior Hamas officials have said the rocket attacks will continue from Gaza until Israel’s siege of Gaza ends. Do you think Gaza is under siege by the Israelis?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to echo names or terms used by Hamas or anyone else. Our view is that Israel has the right to defend itself, and we certainly support that.
MS. PSAKI: More on this topic --
MS. PSAKI: -- or a new topic? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes, this topic. President Abbas has called on yesterday UN Secretary General to form an international committee to monitor and investigate what he referred to as crimes by Israeli settlers. Do you support the formation of such a committee? Or what’s your position?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to offer on that. I’m happy to check with our team and see if we have a view on that specific call.
QUESTION: And today, he mentioned that he will be applying or going to have the Palestinian Authority attending more UN organizations. Do you have any position toward this too?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have details on what he outlined specifically, so why don’t we take a closer look at that and we can see if there’s more to say.