"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
Press Availability in Beirut, Lebanon
Secretary of State
June 4, 2014
QUESTION: Thanks, Mr. Secretary. Why did the United States feel it had to recognize the Unity Palestinian Government immediately, when Netanyahu appealed publicly to the international community not to rush to do so? What does this new rift mean for the U.S.-Israeli relations and chances of reviving the peace talks?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Lesley, let me begin by, if I can, making it very, very clear, in answer to the terminology you used in your question, the United States does not recognize a government with respect to Palestine, because that would recognize a state and there is no state. This is not an issue of recognition of a government. This is an issue of whether or not, under the terms of our law, there would be any kind of contact or work with that government in some form or another. Now, I have spoken with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and I’ve spoken with President Abbas over the last few days. And we’re going to remain in very close touch. And I want to make it very clear what – exactly what we are doing.
President Abbas made clear that this new technocratic government is committed to the principles of nonviolence, negotiations, recognizing the state of Israel, acceptance of the previous agreements and the Quartet principles, and that they will continue their previously agreed upon security cooperation with Israel. Now, that’s what he has said. He has formed an interim technocratic government that does not include any ministers who are affiliated with Hamas. We have checked that. In fact, most of the key cabinet positions – including the prime minister, the two deputy prime ministers, and the finance ministers – are the very same as in the prior government. And they are all technocrats unaffiliated with any political party and they are responsible for facilitating new elections.
Now, let me be clear. As we said, based on what we know now about the composition of this technocratic government which has no ministers affiliated with Hamas and is committed to the principles that I described, we will work with it as we need to, as is appropriate. We will work with it in that context, as, I might add, Israel is obviously working with it for security purposes. It has transferred revenues. There are certain day-to-day needs.
But I want to make it very clear we are going to be watching it very closely, as we have said from day one, to absolutely ensure that it upholds each of those things it has talked about, that it doesn’t cross the line. And the law in the United States regarding assistance and engagement states specifically that it makes a judgment about undue influence by Hamas in any way.
At the moment, we don’t have that, and so we are looking to see as we go forward on a day-to-day evaluation – we will measure the composition, we will measure the policies of the new technocratic government, and we will calibrate our approach accordingly. So that is, I think, a much more precise description of exactly what the status is today.
Hamas is a terrorist organization. It has not accepted the Quartet principles. It continues to call for the destruction of Israel. It continues even as it moves into this new posture. And so we are obviously going to watch closely what happens, but we will – as I’ve said, as needed, as long as those conditions are met that have been described – work with it in the constraints that we are obviously facing.
SECRETARY KERRY: I’ve had several conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu. We’re completely talking about this on a day-to-day basis. Israel is our friend, our strong ally. We are deeply committed. We’ve said again and again the bonds of our relationship extend way beyond security. They are time-honored and as close, I think, as any country in the world. We will stand by Israel, as we have in the past. There is nothing that is changing our security relationship. That is ironclad. And I deal with Prime Minister Netanyahu on a constant basis as a friend as well as as the prime minister of the country, and we’ve had very constructive, straightforward, normal conversations about this process of exactly how we measure things going forward. And I think we will coordinate, as we have throughout my time as Secretary of State. And I can tell you, in the years before I became Secretary, President Obama has constructed a security relationship with Israel that is more interconnected, more cooperative, more extensive than any security relationship between the United States and Israel at any time in history.
MS. PSAKI: The next --
SECRETARY KERRY: And that will continue.