"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Ann Arbor, Michigan
12:02 P.M. EDT
Q And also, since the briefing yesterday there were some developments in the Mideast peace process, so I'm wondering if you have an update and a response to Abbas’s action.
MR. EARNEST: I do have something on this. We are disappointed by the unhelpful unilateral actions that both parties have taken in recent days. Secretary Kerry remains in close touch with our negotiating team, which remains on the ground in the region to continue discussions with the parties. But the parties must take the necessary steps if they want to move forward. Tit-for-tat actions and reactions are counterproductive and don't serve anybody’s interests.
The fact of the matter is these are very difficult challenges. We have seen President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu already make some important decisions and take some courageous steps to try to move this process forward. But ultimately, these are decisions and steps that the United States can't impose on either side. These are not decisions that the United States or members of the Obama administration or other world leaders can make. These are only decisions that can be made and steps that can be taken by the Israeli Prime Minister and the leader of the Palestinian people.
That has been the case from the beginning. What the United States and what President Obama and, of course, Secretary Kerry have tried to do is to facilitate the efforts of both sides to try to find some common ground. That is a painstaking effort. That is something that many others have tried and failed to do. But this administration and the President and certainly the Secretary of State have not allowed those difficult challenges to dampen our efforts to make progress on this.
It is in the interest of the world for the Palestinians and the Israelis to try to resolve their differences peacefully. And it's clearly in the national security interest of the United States, and it is the view of this administration that it's also in the clear interests of our allies, the Israelis, and our friends, the Palestinians, to resolve this. There is a path for us to diplomatically find a way for there to be a safe, secure Jewish state of Israel existing alongside an independent, secure Palestinian state as well. That is the ultimate goal, and that is something that we're going to continue to strive for.
Q Josh, you're getting more and more criticism, including from The New York Times editorial page, about using John Jonathan Pollard as a bargaining chip in the Mideast. What is the White House’s thinking about that right now? And what is your reaction to the criticism?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I know that Jay got a couple of questions about this in the briefing yesterday. Our position on this has not changed; the President has not made a decision about Mr. Pollard. The fact of the matter is Mr. Pollard was tried and convicted of very serious crimes. He was sentenced to a rather lengthy prison sentence and he continues to serve it. I don't have anything to say about the situation beyond that.
12:24 P.M. EDT