"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And the prisoner release as well.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. So a couple questions in there. And just remind me if I leave any out, which I’m sure one of you will. We do not consider continued settlement activity or East Jerusalem construction to be steps that create a positive environment for the negotiations. At no time in the course of pursuing negotiations toward a two-state solution have we condoned settlement activity or East Jerusalem construction.
The reason why it’s so important for both parties to continue to proceed – and they are and they’ve committed to a nine-month timeline of commitment – is to resolve these outstanding issues. But we continue to oppose any – these actions, and certainly express that as appropriate.
In terms of the prisoner release – Matt, I think that was your question, right? We’ve talked about this – the last – the first round of it, of the prisoner release. But the release of prisoners is a difficult but necessary step to help ensure the success of talks. There are steps that have been taken by both sides in that regard. The talks are continuing, and both sides remain committed to the nine-month timeframe.
QUESTION: Can you – when this project in East – or projects – these projects in East Jerusalem were first announced --
QUESTION: -- you will probably recall that Vice President Biden was in Jerusalem.
MS. PSAKI: That’s right.
QUESTION: And it caused a significant rupture --
QUESTION: -- or deterioration in U.S.-Israeli relations. The response today to the same construction or this same construction moving forward is, I would have to say, kind of perfunctory. And I would – and so I’m just curious as to why was it such a big deal that caused Secretary – then Secretary Clinton to get on the phone for a very heated conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and today it’s kind of like, well, we think it’s a bad idea but --
MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t categorize it that way at all. We have expressed – the Secretary had expressed his concerns and his issue with settlements and construction in East Jerusalem on many times in the past to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I’m sure he will in the future as well. But the reason why we want to have talks and the reason why it’s so important they move forward is to resolve these types of issues.
Right now the talks are three months in. We’ve provided some updates along the way. I don’t have any today for you. But that certainly is a difference than where we were a couple of years ago.
QUESTION: Are you at all encouraged by the rather mild reaction from what one might call hardline Israelis to the prisoner release and the rather mild reaction from the Palestinians to this East Jerusalem construction announcement? Does that – do you – does Ambassador Indyk or any of his team or the Secretary regard this as a possible sign that the two sides are maturing and that they’re actually ready to or and able to get into the deep issues that they need to if their negotiation is to succeed?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any particular response or reaction from the building to the reactions. I think the fact that they remain at the negotiating table, that they remain committed to the nine-month timeline, that those negotiations have intensified in recent weeks, is what we would point to.
QUESTION: Well, has it been noticed in this building that whereas events like these two events – prisoner release on the Israeli side followed by another announcement of construction – seems to have passed without the normal furor or the usual major outcry? Has that been noticed at all?
MS. PSAKI: We certainly monitor and watch all of these events closely but don’t ascribe more meaning to it than that.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: Yeah. The UN Secretary General came out with a statement today on the settlements and said any measures that prejudge final status issues will not be recognized by the international community. What does that mean to you, and how do you interpret the word “prejudge”?
MS. PSAKI: I would point you – I don’t know if I want to do – not that I don’t know. I don’t want to do – (laughter) – an analysis of his statement. I can only state what our positions are as the United States. Broadly speaking, I think there is agreement that these issues do need to be resolved through final status negotiations. That’s why we’re having them and why we’re pressing for them. So I’m not sure if it was a reference to that, but I would point you to them for further explanation of what they meant.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:34 p.m.)
DPB # 180