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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: United States of America
2 June 2014

Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing

Washington, DC
June 2, 2014



QUESTION: What is the U.S. Government’s view of the so-called Palestinian unity government that was sworn in today by Palestinian President Abbas?

MS. PSAKI: Well, at this point, it appears that President Abbas has formed an interim technocratic government that does not include ministers affiliated with Hamas. Moving forward, we will be judging this government by its actions. Based on what we know now, we intend to work with this government, but we’ll be watching closely to ensure that it upholds the principles that President Abbas reiterated today.

QUESTION: One follow-up on this.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: When you say, “Based on what we know now, we intend to work with this government,” does that mean that based on what you know now, you intend to continue disbursing U.S. foreign assistance to the Palestinian Authority and this government?

MS. PSAKI: It does, but we will continue to evaluate the composition and policies of the new government and calibrate our approach accordingly.

QUESTION: When you say that you will continue but you’ll continue watching it, are you looking for either something that will indicate that this government is not looking to – is not planning to adhere, like an act that they take that shows that they’re not? Or are you looking for them to take steps to prove that they are, including some kind of reaffirmation of those three principles?

MS. PSAKI: Well, President Abbas abided – or reiterated those principles today, and so we will, of course, follow that, and we believe they have every desire and intent to abide by those principles, and – again, but we’ll be watching to ensure that they do in their policies and the – how the government is put together.

QUESTION: So the concern expressed by Secretary Kerry yesterday when he spoke with Palestinian President Abbas now is alleviated that the government is formed, and there are no members of – affiliated with Hamas, directly affiliated with Hamas? Has that been alleviated?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, you’re right in terms of the formation and what the formation of the technocratic government looks like, but we will continue to evaluate the composition and policies of the new government, and if needed, we’ll calibrate our approach.

QUESTION: But you have no plans, let’s say, to cut off aid, as was threatened in the past?

MS. PSAKI: At this point, no.

QUESTION: Do you think the makeup of the new government sets an environment, perhaps, for a continuation or a re-launch of the re-launch of the peace process?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it is ultimately up to the parties, as we’ve long stated, to make the difficult decisions about coming to the negotiating table, so that remains to be seen. The Secretary has been in close touch with both sides over the last several weeks, as would be expected given our bilateral relationships. Peace negotiations with the Government of Israel are under the purview of the PLO, and that hasn’t changed. So we will see. We’re not in a position to make a prediction at this point.

QUESTION: Okay. But given that when the reconciliation agreement was first announced and before – a few weeks ago before this government was obviously formed, you said at the podium that you didn’t think that Israel could be expected to negotiate with a government that includes militant members of Hamas. Those same words were used the next day by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to suspend the talks. Is your advice or your counsel to Prime Minister Netanyahu now that this government is one that they could work with and that they --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve --

QUESTION: -- should go ahead and re-launch the peace process?

MS. PSAKI: That is not where we are at this point. It’s up to them to make that decision. Our view here is that this – that President Abbas has formed an interim technocratic government. He reaffirmed support for the Quartet principles. Again, we will evaluate, moving forward, our own relationship, but Israel’s going to make its own decision.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) interim technocratic or interim moderate technocratic?

MS. PSAKI: Interim technocratic government.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Have you been in touch with the Israelis about this decision? Because as you know, or should know, they have decided – they have not taken the same approach as you have. They’ve – planning to cut off all contact, including – according to some reports, including security cooperation. Do the Israelis know that you have decided to --

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary did speak with Prime Minister Netanyahu today. It was right before I came down, so I haven’t had a chance to get a readout, but we will get one for all of you after the briefing.

QUESTION: Was the expectation that it would be to inform Prime Minister Netanyahu of this approach by the U.S. Government?

MS. PSAKI: That was certainly part of the discussion, I expect, yes.

QUESTION: I’m surprised we didn’t hear the yelling from Jerusalem here in Washington. (Laughter.) Was it a cordial phone call this morning, or you don’t have any --

MS. PSAKI: Again, it just happened right before I came down, so --

QUESTION: And so Congress – many in Congress are taking a different view of this. Does this mean you will go and make a case on the Hill that the U.S. should not, at least at the moment, change anything about the way it works with the Palestinian Government – with the Palestinians? And does this also mean that there will be essentially no changes in the way the CG and the staff in Jerusalem work with the Palestinian Government?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. In our case, obviously, we’ll be in close consultation with the Hill and members of Congress on this issue now that the announcement about the interim technocratic government has been made. We continue to believe our assistance to the PA and the Palestinian people are important, and I’m sure that will be part of the case we make as well.

QUESTION: Jen, just to follow up on Elise’s question --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- so you are satisfied with Abbas’s statement that they – he reaffirmed, recommitted himself to the Quartet principles? You don’t want any other action, let’s say, from this cabinet or from this government to prove its goodwill, do you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we – again, it’s important how things proceed moving forward, and we’ll be – we intend to work with this government. We’ll be watching closely to ensure that it upholds these principles moving forward.

QUESTION: And is it safe to assume – considering that Secretary Kerry spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu just right before you came, is it safe to assume that he spoke with him about the issue of boycotting or cutting off all contact with the Palestinians, and perhaps he may have persuaded (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m certain that the announcement today was a part of the discussion, but why don’t I get a more specific readout of the call.

Did you have another question, Arshad?


QUESTION: I’m sorry, one last --

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.


QUESTION: One last thing: I know last Friday, you said that you have no plans to invite the Palestinian Prime Minister Hamdallah --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to Washington anytime soon. Has there been any change in that?

MS. PSAKI: No changes.

QUESTION: No changes?

MS. PSAKI: No changes to that.

Go ahead, Arshad.

QUESTION: Yeah, just one: There have been – there’s been talks that the Palestinians plan to hold an election in the next – in about six months. Is that a good idea?

MS. PSAKI: Well, generally speaking, as a matter of principle, we support democratic, free and fair elections. Just as with the rest of this process, we’ll monitor developments closely. Our view is it’s too early to speculate on what the outcome will be, and we’ll let events proceed.

QUESTION: But regardless of what the outcome will be – in other words, who will win or lose – and regardless of your general support for elections, do you think it would be a good idea for the Palestinians to hold an election in six months? And if not, why not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think I was trying to indicate that we’re open to – they’re proceeding with these elections, and we’ll see how they proceed in the coming weeks leading up to them, as well as the outcome.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Syria? Do we have any more on this issue before we go on?


MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: The – Hamas is not apparently dismantling its military infrastructure and its forces, and is the State Department concerned that this is going to create a situation in Gaza similar to the Hezbollah entity in Lebanon?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, again, we’ll continue to evaluate the specifics here. But President Abbas has consistently upheld his responsibility to maintain security coordination, and he’s publicly stressed his commitment to doing that. We expect him to continue to uphold that commitment. Beyond that, I don’t have anything else to read out for you today.

QUESTION: So if there’s rocket attacks or terror attacks from Gaza now going forward, will that be under the Palestinian Authority’s responsibility?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we condemn all rocket attacks from Gaza. We would also expect President Abbas to do so as he has in the past, and we expect the Palestinian Authority to do everything in its power to prevent attacks from Gaza into Israel. But we recognize that Hamas currently controls Gaza, and we’ll be closely monitoring the security situation moving forward.


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