"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
Daily Press Briefing
January 7, 2014
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
QUESTION: -- which is what happened in the – anyway, can I move to Israel for a second?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Just very quickly, have you guys decided yet whether or not you agree or disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli officials about the issue of what they call – what they say is Palestinian incitement?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t know that we have – we’ve spoken about our concerns about incitement consistently over the course of years, Matt, so I don’t know that we have anything new to report or any analysis on the recent comments over the last couple of days.
QUESTION: Well, do you believe that the incitement that Israel is talking about or that Israel claims is, in fact, increasing, as it says?
MS. PSAKI: I know that that’s what they said. I don’t have any particular analysis of that. Obviously, our focus is on reducing incitement, calling for an end to incitement. We think it’s unproductive and unhelpful to the process, as you know.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, okay, so incitement is bad, yes?
MS. PSAKI: I think that’s fair to say. Yes.
QUESTION: All right. So can you – so when the chief Palestinian negotiator comes out of an interview and says that Israel killed Yasser Arafat, poisoned him, do you regard that as incitement?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we have seen his comments, as you know. There’s decades of mistrust at play here. We’re not going to analyze every comment and what it means. But I would say our focus, as Marie said yesterday, remains on both parties and having them at the table and moving the talks forward.
QUESTION: You were in the room in Jerusalem last week when Prime Minister Netanyahu made these comments about President Abbas – very critical about President Abbas – complaining that – or saying that it was incitement when the Palestinians welcomed these released prisoners home as heroes.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you believe that welcoming them – welcoming these people, these released detainees as heroes is incitement?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to give an analysis of every action and what is incitement and what is not incitement. That’s not helpful from here or helpful from the United States Government or from the podium.
QUESTION: Well, I --
MS. PSAKI: What I will say is that we know this is a tough time. We’re working through the process on the ground. We know that there are political pressures from all sides, and we’re seeing that manifest itself in many ways. The leaders remain engaged and committed, and that’s what our focus is on.
QUESTION: Well, wouldn’t you – what – I don’t understand this argument that it’s not – it wouldn’t be helpful so you’re not just going to do it – so you won’t take a stand on what – you say you believe that incitement is bad, and then when a specific example comes up, you think it’s not helpful to say it?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into a scenario --
QUESTION: Wouldn’t it be --
MS. PSAKI: -- of labelling every instance that happens.
QUESTION: Well --
QUESTION: But you think it’s helpful to say that the Israelis killed the Palestinian former leader by one of the negotiators?
MS. PSAKI: We think there are a range of comments that have been made that are unhelpful. I’m not going to do --
QUESTION: Is that one of them?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to do an analysis of it.
QUESTION: All right. Well, can you say – have you expressed the – have you expressed your unhappiness or your anger or whatever, your --
MS. PSAKI: Feelings?
QUESTION: -- (laughter) – not feelings – your position to the – to either side when they make these comments --
MS. PSAKI: Of course. It’s fair to say that a great deal of our diplomacy here happens privately. That’s in the best interest of the process.
QUESTION: And do you believe that it is helpful to the public on both sides for you not to take a public position when some – when someone from either side comes out and says something that you believe is just factually and historically incorrect and false?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, what we feel would be helpful to the public would be an agreement on final status negotiations. That would bring peace to the region.
QUESTION: The problem is --
MS. PSAKI: So we’re not going to take steps that would hurt that process.
QUESTION: Wait --
QUESTION: Okay, okay. But Prime Minister Netanyahu argues that the Palestinians, by calling these released prisoners heroes, by accusing Israel of killing Arafat, that they are not preparing the Palestinian people for a potential peace agreement with Israel. Do you agree or disagree with that? And do you find – do you – I’ll leave it at that. Do you agree or disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s criticisms and complaints?
MS. PSAKI: That – can you say it one more time?
QUESTION: That the Palestinians, the leadership, including their president, President Abbas, and their chief negotiator are not helping to prepare the Palestinian people for a possible eventual peace agreement.
MS. PSAKI: Matt, we’re not going to get into – I’m not going to speak to that. We – the Secretary feels that both sides are negotiating in good faith. We know that there are comments that are made from both sides that are received poorly or negatively from the other side. That’s a part of the process that we anticipated. We’re there as an arbiter between them --
MS. PSAKI: -- but we’re not going to speak to or analyze or give commentary on every comment made.
QUESTION: But if you’re an arbiter, doesn’t it – isn’t it your responsibility to call people out when they do such things that --
MS. PSAKI: No. An arbiter is working to bring both sides closer together to come to an agreement on a final status negotiation.
QUESTION: Can I get one in? Can I get one in?
QUESTION: Foreign Minister Lieberman – there have been reports that he’s engaged in a kind of parallel discussions with the Palestinians, and I’m wondering if he discussed this with Secretary Kerry in their meeting, and what do you think that this type of kind of side negotiations or side discussions are helpful to the process that you have --
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of that, or I’m not even sure if that’s an accurate report. But the Secretary did meet with Foreign Minister Lieberman, as you mentioned. He’s put a range of ideas and proposals out there. Our focus is on working through the negotiating team with both sides.
QUESTION: Have you tried to clarify these reports?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not – I wasn’t even aware of them until this point, so --
QUESTION: Are we --
MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry. I have to go up to the bilateral meeting. I’m sorry, Said. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Are we likely to see a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas?
MS. PSAKI: Hmm?
QUESTION: Are we likely to see a meeting anytime soon between Netanyahu and Abbas?
MS. PSAKI: Our position hasn’t changed. At some point, if that’s useful, we’ll work toward that --
QUESTION: Well, at some point it might be useful if you want a peace deal.
MS. PSAKI: All right. I’ve got to go.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:55 p.m.)