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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: United States of America
15 August 2013

U.S. Department of State

Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing

Washington, DC
August 15, 2013


QUESTION: Yeah. Can you tell us what, if anything, happened at the meeting in Jerusalem last night? Have they, at least at the bare minimum, agreed on when this Jericho meeting is going to be?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to announce for you on the Jericho meeting. Obviously, that was a part of the discussion. As you know, they met yesterday. As I said yesterday, we don’t plan to read out the substance of these meetings.

QUESTION: Okay. Was there any substance?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, there was.

QUESTION: There was?


QUESTION: But what the substance was was a – is a secret?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think you’re familiar with the – with what the issues are --

QUESTION: All right. Did --

MS. PSAKI: -- of all people on this issue.

QUESTION: Did you – were you able to get an answer to my questions yesterday about which settlements are illegitimate, which existing settlements in the West Bank and which existing housing project – housing in East Jerusalem are illegitimate in the view of the United States?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new for you on that front.

QUESTION: Okay. So that means – and please correct me if I’m wrong – that the United States does not take a position on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of existing or announced settlements or construction in East Jerusalem?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our position on this, Matt, as you know, has been consistent for a long time – I venture to guess as long as you’ve been covering the State Department – on the construction of – the construction in East Jerusalem. It has not changed.


MS. PSAKI: We oppose any unilateral actions by either party --


MS. PSAKI: -- and we’re not going to prejudge --

QUESTION: Right. But you don’t call it illegitimate --

MS. PSAKI: -- the final outcome.

QUESTION: -- or you don’t use the same language in East Jerusalem as you do in the West Bank. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct.

QUESTION: Okay. So but – then my question and what I said yesterday, and you said you thought that I was wrong, but I want to make sure that if I am wrong I would love to be – I really want to be corrected if this is wrong.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Once a settlement in the West Bank is announced by the Israelis or built, you no longer consider it to be illegitimate, because that is then something that the parties need to take up – the legitimacy or the illegitimacy – in direct negotiations. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the parties will certainly take it up. There will be land on both sides that will --


MS. PSAKI: -- land on either side.

QUESTION: But you do not take a position on it?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new for you today on it.

QUESTION: Is that – does that – but does that mean that you do not take a position on it once it’s built or announced?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything different from what I told you yesterday.

QUESTION: So the only thing that you – okay, then I think that I was correct yesterday and I’m correct now in saying that the only settlement activity that you find to be illegitimate or you’ve deemed illegitimate is settlements that haven’t been built yet and haven’t been announced, settlements that don’t exist?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: -- regardless of the word that’s used, we don’t find any --

QUESTION: I don’t – again --

MS. PSAKI: This is important. Let me just --

QUESTION: -- again, I don’t want to get into the --

MS. PSAKI: -- let me make a point --

QUESTION: -- but no wait, but I don’t want to get into this argument between illegitimate and illegal, because as I said yesterday --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not making that point.


MS. PSAKI: I’m making the point that, regardless, we find these actions unhelpful. We’ve made that clear. So I understand you’re talking about the specific legitimacy versus not legitimacy. But given the sensitivity, of course, we find these actions unhelpful, and that’s consistently been our position.

QUESTION: Right. But do you understand then the problem that the Palestinians and people who support – their supporters have with the U.S. position that, essentially, once the Israelis have announced something or built it, you no longer take a position on its legitimacy or illegitimacy. You don’t --

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, they’re --

QUESTION: Because you’re leaving it up to the parties.

MS. PSAKI: They were at the table yesterday discussing all of these issues.

QUESTION: I understand that. But the U.S. no longer or – maybe no longer is not the right word. The United States does not take a position on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of existing settlements in the West Bank.

MS. PSAKI: Our position has been the same for years. It has not changed.

QUESTION: That – and that position is that this needs to be determined by – in direct talks between – in final status negotiations. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: They will be discussed there.

QUESTION: So you do not – okay. You don’t have a position, then, on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of existing – of actual settlements; you only take a position on settlements that haven’t been built or haven’t even been thought of or announced?

MS. PSAKI: Continued settlement activity.

QUESTION: Right. Okay.

QUESTION: Has there been any change in your commitment to UN Resolution 242 of November 1967?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. Are you aware that the Palestinians may have actually agreed to the circuitous route of the wall barrier, and in fact, they agreed to land swaps?

MS. PSAKI: The land swaps?


MS. PSAKI: Yes, I’m – what’s your question?

QUESTION: My question is: Are you aware that in this last round of talks the Palestinians have agreed to land swaps --

MS. PSAKI: In the last round of talks?

QUESTION: -- and agreed to the barrier, yes.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to read out to you on the substance.

QUESTION: All right. My last question on this --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have – why not have your own sort of map proposal? You have been involved in this process for a very long time and you know every little inch of it.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Why can’t the United States actually submit its own view of where those borders should be?

MS. PSAKI: It’s up to the two parties to determine.

QUESTION: Jen, in Brasilia, Secretary Kerry was saying that both he and President Abbas had been notified by Netanyahu weeks before that these announcements would be made, and that they knew full well, both he and President Abbas --

MS. PSAKI: Well, some of these announcements – and I know you know the process – have been made public in the past --


MS. PSAKI: -- and there are different stages of where things stand, and that’s what the Secretary’s referring to.

QUESTION: Right. So is he saying that President Abbas had agreed to come to the table to negotiations knowing that the announcements that were made this week --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything further to read out on what President Abbas did or didn’t agree to.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) if either Ambassador Indyk or --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Mr. Lowenstein were – would take part in --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the talks. Did they take – did they actually get into the room with the Israelis and the Palestinians both at the same time?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Ambassador Indyk was there in a facilitating role, but we’re not going to read out for every meeting whether they were apart or not apart. These were set up to be bilateral meetings.

QUESTION: And why not, though? I mean, what’s the harm in saying whether they --

MS. PSAKI: That’s the preference of the parties participating.

QUESTION: But what’s the danger in saying, “Yeah, Ambassador Indyk took part.”

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know that there’s a danger. I’m just abiding by the preference of the parties participating.

QUESTION: So is --

QUESTION: And when you say “the parties,” you mean the Israelis and the Palestinians. That’s at their request?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it was conveyed to us through our team, but I’m sure that’s part of the discussion with all parties.

QUESTION: But – no, no – I just want to make sure it isn’t just your preference, rather than the preference of the Israelis and the Palestinians.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more clarification on that for you.

QUESTION: So it may be your preference; it may be their preference. You can’t tell me whose preference it is.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more for you on it.

QUESTION: So in the meeting room --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is Ambassador Indyk and his team – are they like on standby to put out any fires that may occur during the negotiations?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re – Ambassador Indyk and Deputy Envoy Frank Lowenstein are playing facilitator roles, so they’ll be in some meetings, they won’t be in others. There’ll be bilateral meetings where they won’t be in, and they’ll be in other meetings where they will be participating.

QUESTION: So – I – do they – are they involved in sort of panel options and choices and suggestions and so on as the negotiators negotiate?

MS. PSAKI: When appropriate, they’re a part of the discussion. But it depends on – every meeting is different.

QUESTION: Do you expect that the date of the Jericho meeting will be made public?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know yet, Matt.

QUESTION: I mean --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know yet, if it will be.

QUESTION: Because why? I mean, wasn’t the intent – when they were first announced --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- when it was first announced that the first one would be in – or the second one would be in Jerusalem --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and then there would be one in Jericho, there was this – I don’t think it was – was there an expectation that somehow the mere fact of the meeting in Jericho was supposed to be secret? And if it was, why was it – why did you announce it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, no. I think that it hasn’t been set yet, so we’ll make a determination as to when it’s set what we’ll announce publicly.

QUESTION: Right, because the date – the actual date of it could be dangerous? I don’t understand. I mean, if you were comfortable enough to say that it would be in Jericho --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I don’t understand why you would not be comfortable enough to say when --

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: -- if it has been agreed. Do you know if it has – if a date has been agreed?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t.


MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update on that for you.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:23 p.m.)

DPB #139


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