"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
INDEX FOR TODAY'S BRIEFING
1:08 p.m. EDT
MS. PSAKI: Okay. On a serious note, a couple of items for the top. The Secretary is in Amman, Jordan today, where he participated in bilateral meetings with Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh, Palestinian Authority President Abbas, and Jordanian King Abdullah II. Right now he’s also in a trilateral meeting with King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. The meeting will focus on ways to restore calm and de-escalate tensions in Jerusalem. The Secretary will be doing a press availability after the meeting, so we will point all of you – the readouts of those meetings to his comments there.
QUESTION: Recognizing that you’re going to punt all the – or punt is the wrong word – you’re going to refer most questions or almost all questions about the situation in Israel and the PA to the traveling party and the Secretary, I just want to – this meeting that’s going on right now that you mentioned, was there any thought or idea of having President Abbas join this meeting? Because it seems to me that if you’re trying to reduce the tensions and calm the situation and stop the incitement that everyone has talked about so much, that you – it would be natural or advisable to have the president of the Palestinian Authority there. Does that --
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Matt, obviously, the leaders would certainly decide if they would engage in a meeting together. That wasn’t on the planning on our front-- It wasn’t in the planning on our front and wasn’t the purpose of the visit. It was for the Secretary to meet, certainly, with President Abbas, with King Abdullah of Jordan. Obviously, we added the meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, given his relationships with the leaders.
QUESTION: Right. But wouldn’t it make sense, if you’re trying to de-escalate the tensions, to get the leaders of all – well, at least the two main leaders here, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, into a meeting with the King and the Secretary, given all of their roles? No?
MS. PSAKI: That was not in the plans.
QUESTION: But I guess the question is then: Why not?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, obviously, as I mentioned in the first answer I gave to you, is that they would decide if they were interested in meeting together. Obviously they haven’t made that decision, but we did not engage in a discussion about having a meeting like that either.
QUESTION: And is that because the relationship between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas right now is not in a good state?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, clearly, there are increasing tensions on the ground. I would point you to them and their staffs to answer questions on whether or not they would meet, why they wouldn’t, et cetera.
QUESTION: Can I just ask --
QUESTION: Jen, can I --
QUESTION: Jo, let me just --
QUESTION: Could I just ask it this way, then --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: It was – so you – it was never raised? You guys never raised the idea?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of it being raised.
QUESTION: That was my question, whether you actually directly asked, because President Abbas, obviously, as you mentioned yesterday, has a home in Amman.
MS. PSAKI: Yes. Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: That’s where he met with the Secretary. And the meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu was added at fairly short notice, I believe. So did you actually ask the Prime Minister and the President if they were interested in meeting together?
QUESTION: So just to follow up on Jo’s question --
QUESTION: -- what has transpired? I mean, as of yesterday, when I asked you, you said there were no plans to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu for the --
MS. PSAKI: I said yesterday, Said, just to be clear – let me finish, and then you can go to your next question – that obviously the decision to go to Amman took place just in the last 48 to 72 hours. As you know, President Abbas has a home there. Obviously, King Abdullah lives there. And I said there’s, obviously, other options or possibilities that could be added to the schedule. That ended up being the case.
QUESTION: Right. But my question is: Is anything happened in the last, let’s say, 12 or 24 hours that warranted bringing Prime Minister Netanyahu to Amman to meet with the Secretary of State and with the King of Jordan?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we remain extremely concerned about escalating tensions recently across Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank. And obviously, having an opportunity to discuss these issues in person, discuss how tensions could be reduced, is certainly the purpose of the discussions and the meetings.
QUESTION: So just to be sure, these discussions will focus on the situation in Jerusalem and in the area of al-Haram Sharif, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, there’s particularly been tensions surrounding Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, and so we would expect that would be a part of the discussion.
QUESTION: And the reason I ask this is because also Frank Lowenstein is with them, who is trying to play – or perhaps reignite some sort of talks or peace talks and so on. He was the envoy to the talks. So is there any potential for these talks? I mean, just to get outside the --
MS. PSAKI: I think, Said, we’ll let the Secretary read out the meetings --
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: -- when he does his press availability. But the focus is really on the escalating tensions in the region. Could other topics come up? Sure.
QUESTION: Can I just go back and finish what I was going to ask? I wanted to ask, more broadly – I don’t know if you’d seen today that there was some suggestion that the Israeli side might be thinking of reinstalling metal detectors at al-Aqsa, outside the entrances of al-Aqsa Mosque. Have you seen that? What’s --
MS. PSAKI: I had not actually seen that report. I mean, our view is – continues to be that we believe it should go back to the status quo of the – of what had been observed from both sides.
QUESTION: Is --
MS. PSAKI: Obviously, that would be a new component, but I’m happy to talk to our team --
MS. PSAKI: -- about any particularly concerns we have about that.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
QUESTION: The status quo ante.
MS. PSAKI: Fair enough. Okay. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Just to follow up very quickly, also on the violence in Jerusalem and so on, Israel has taken a step further, going back to a policy that has not been implemented in eight years, which is to demolish the homes of suspected terrorists and so on. I wonder if you have a comment on that.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we believe that punitive demolitions are counterproductive to the cause of peace and exacerbate an already tense situation. Beyond that, I don’t have any additional details on their plans.
QUESTION: Do you think this is something that may come up in the discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu?
MS. PSAKI: We’ll see.
QUESTION: Or that are going on now?
MS. PSAKI: We’ll see, Said.
MS. PSAKI: We’ll let the Secretary read out the meetings.