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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: United States of America
20 December 2013

Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing

Washington, DC
December 20, 2013

Index for Today's Briefing


  • U.S. Condemns UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk's Remarks

  • Violence in the Region
  • Negotiations




QUESTION: On Israel and the UN, Special Rapporteur – the head of the Human Rights Commission --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- he made these – he kind of reaffirmed his comment talking about Israel as having genocidal intentions. Canada has called for him to be removed from his job and, I mean, doesn’t this – now that you’ve rejoined the United Nations Human Rights Council, don’t you think that having a gentleman of this – of saying these type of things, like, kind of flies in the face of what the Human Rights Council is supposed to be --

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me very clear here. We condemn and completely reject Richard Falk’s latest outrageous statements made during an interview with Russia Today. The Administration has repeatedly condemned in the strongest terms his despicable and deeply offensive comments, particularly his anti-Semitic blog postings, his endorsement of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and more recently, his deplorable statements with regard to the terrorist attacks in Boston. His most recent remarks, however, represent a new low. We do not support his mandate or his work, which has been one-sided and biased, nor do we believe he should continue to serve as independent UN rapporteur, and we reiterate our calls for him to step down from this role.

We note that his term as Special Rapporteur ends in March 2014, and he cannot be reappointed to the role after that time.

QUESTION: So basically, he’s just going to kind of skirt by it all March 2014?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve repeatedly called for him to step down. We continue to condemn in strongest terms his steps. Unfortunately, the vast majority of HRC members do not agree on his stepping down.

QUESTION: Well, but what does that say about the kind of relevance of a group like the Human Rights Council? I mean, I know you thought it was important to rejoin, but when the majority of members are siding with country – not just in this instance, but are siding with countries and dictators and leaders who do not espouse the human rights values that you do, what is the relevance of the council?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly we have strongly – we strongly oppose his comments and his role, as I think I’ve made evident. However, there still is good work that the Human Rights Council does. We will continue to press for him to step down, but we felt, as you noted, it was still important to be a member of the organization.


QUESTION: Could we go on? Israel related, but the Palestinian-Israeli talks?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Sure.

QUESTION: First of all, could you confirm to us that you guys reserved – like, booked 50 rooms for next months in Jerusalem? Is that true? I mean, the Israeli press is saying that you booked 50 rooms in Jerusalem --

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: -- alluding that there may be something in the offing.

MS. PSAKI: Said, I would hardly read into that much. I can tell you I stay in the same room in the 10 times we’ve been there, so we have been there frequently and it may just be logistics planning for a future trip.

QUESTION: Yeah. Okay. And to follow up, yesterday and today as a matter of fact, the Israelis killed Palestinians unprovoked. They killed one today in Gaza; they killed a member of the security forces yesterday in Jenin, and so on. Maybe 20 Palestinians have been killed almost in unprovoked – totally unprovoked since the start of the talks. Are you – do you condemn those acts by the Israelis?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, we’ve expressed concerns in the past, Said. I’d have to look at more of the specific details. You know how we feel about violence, and certainly, deaths in the region.

QUESTION: Okay. And also, the chief negotiator Saeb Erekat --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- said yesterday that there’s reason for optimism, and so on. But he also said that the talks did not have to end by the end of the nine-month period. Is that something new?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, in July when the Secretary, with Saeb Erekat and with Tzipi Livni standing by his side, made the announcement about the nine-month timeframe, it was because they had agreed to it. We still have months to go. We remain focused on achieving our objectives in this timeframe. That has not changed.

That being said, we certainly welcome Saeb Erekat’s comments that the Palestinians are open to continued final status negotiations with the Israelis if a framework agreement is reached. We have long said that the only way to achieve a final status agreement is through direct negotiations. But at this point, we still remain focused on the timeline the Secretary set out, and I’m not going to speculate on what is going to happen beyond the nine-month timeframe.

QUESTION: What is the difference between a framework agreement and an interim agreement and a final status agreement? Could you explain to us?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, an interim – it is not an interim agreement. We remain focused on a final status agreement. A framework would be a step in the process on the principles that would be discussed and hopefully agreed to through a final status agreement.


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