"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS
12:52 p.m. EDT
QUESTION: Palestinian-Israeli tensions.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Yesterday, after the discovery of the bodies of the three teenagers, the Palestinian Authority – President Abbas called a number of world leaders to urge them, to urge Israel to sort of rein in whatever response they might have. Has he spoken to Secretary of State Kerry or has he --
MS. HARF: No, he has not.
QUESTION: -- spoken to anyone? All right. Has the Secretary spoken to anyone, to the Israeli prime minister and so on?
MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t know about calls today. Let me check.
QUESTION: Are you aware of --
MS. HARF: He may – I don’t know about any calls today, so let me double-check.
QUESTION: I understand. Are you aware of any requests that the United States may have had – may have made to the Israelis to sort of restrain or refrain from, let’s say, a disproportionate response?
MS. HARF: Well, Said, as we said yesterday and have said for many days, we are encouraging restraint from both sides, from the parties, to avoid steps that now could destabilize the situation. From the outset we have offered our full support to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to find the perpetrator to this crime and bring them to justice. And we encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working together in that effort. As you heard the President and the Secretary both say yesterday that we condemn this despicable terrorist attack in the strongest possible terms. As you know, there was one American citizen killed, and it’s really outrageous. And again, we’ll talk – keep talking to the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority about it.
QUESTION: Okay. The Israelis conducted 34 air raids on Gaza. Do you expect them to do more? Do you expect them to do --
MS. HARF: I’ll let them speak for themselves.
QUESTION: Do you like them to say – what is your position on this? Do you believe that this will only exacerbate tensions between Palestinians and the Israelis?
MS. HARF: I don’t have any specific comment on those actions, Said.
QUESTION: Marie, I raised this question yesterday, and in light of what you just said, calling this a terrorist attack, the old crime reporter in me is always skeptical when governments, police agencies are quick to point out this is the suspect, these are the suspects. What is the Israeli Government’s evidence that two members of Hamas are responsible for these three murders? What is the U.S. Government’s evidence that Hamas members are responsible for this murder?
MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t say Hamas was responsible.
QUESTION: No, but it is --
MS. HARF: So let me talk a little bit about culpability.
QUESTION: Yeah, but – no, but it’s implied when you use the word “terrorist” that it’s not --
MS. HARF: Well, “terrorist” can mean a number – terrorism is a form of violence.
MS. HARF: It doesn’t necessarily indicate a specific group. Let me talk to you a little about responsibility and then if there are follow-ups. Right now there are many indications pointing to Hamas’s involvement, and it is also important to note that Hamas’s leadership has publicly praised the kidnappings. The investigation is ongoing. We are still seeking additional details. Again, we’ve offered our full support to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to help in this effort.
QUESTION: Okay. On the second point first, just because Khaled Meshaal praises the murders of these three young men does not necessarily mean that they had anything – they meaning Hamas – had anything to do with it.
MS. HARF: The investigation’s still --
QUESTION: Right, right.
MS. HARF: -- as I said, there are many indications pointing to Hamas’s involvement.
QUESTION: Yeah. But let me finish. Because as we saw with many incidents in the past decade, al-Qaida was very quick to claim responsibility for things for which it had no responsibility. Going back to the point that Said was raising about restraint, is the U.S. concerned or satisfied with how the Israeli Government has been responding in the wake of the discovery of these young men’s bodies?
MS. HARF: I’m just not going to characterize it in any way other than to say we’re calling on both sides to show restraint. And again, there are indications, many indications at this point, pointing to Hamas’s involvement. I wasn’t – the investigation is still ongoing, and we want to get to the bottom of what happened here.
QUESTION: What is the evidence that – what is the evidence that indicates that it was Hamas and not some serial killer who likes to prey on young men?
MS. HARF: Well, again, we’re not going to outline the details of that investigation that’s ongoing publicly given the fact that it’s still ongoing. I am indicating for you what many indications have shown about Hamas’s involvement, and as we get more information, we’ll share it.
QUESTION: Well, I guess – not to beat a dead horse, but --
MS. HARF: That’s probably not the right choice of words here.
QUESTION: Not the right choice of words, but I covered too many cases where children, for example, would disappear, there would be massive community outcry, and then it would turn out that a parent or another relative was responsible. I covered too many cases of women who disappeared and it turned out that their husbands were responsible for their murders. And so on.
And so to be skeptical, particularly when we’re talking about the Israelis and the Palestinians and the amount of mistrust that there is for both sides, why should the general public believe the Israeli Government and the U.S. Government when they say we have reason to believe, ample reason to believe that it was Hamas and not some other horrible incident that led to these young men’s deaths?
MS. HARF: Well, you can choose to believe or not believe me, but what I am saying is that we have many indications as part of this investigation – which, by the way, we take very seriously, just for the fact that these are three teenagers that’ve been killed but also given that one’s an American. So there are many indications as part of this investigation that Hamas may have been involved. I am not at this point saying they were responsible. I am not putting a specific name out there. I’m saying the investigation’s ongoing. If it leads somewhere different, if those indications turn out to be wrong, we will update you with that information as well.
QUESTION: Marie, can I just ask – are these many indications that your own people, that American people, investigators have gathered? Or are these indications that have been given to you by the Israeli Government, who obviously is the lead investigator in this?
MS. HARF: I’ll check and see if there are more details to share here. The Palestinian Authority is also working with the Israeli Government on the investigation as well. This is not just an Israeli investigation.
QUESTION: I mean, I guess the question is: Is it your own evidence or is it --
MS. HARF: Yep. I’m happy to check, Jo. I just don’t know the facts here.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about the settlement activity that – an announcement was made that the Israelis are building a new 60-unit housing and settlement expansion.
MS. HARF: I haven’t seen that announcement, Said. But you know our policy on settlements hasn’t changed.
QUESTION: Okay. And also the Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that new settlements should be established to commemorate these three young men. Do you have any comment?
MS. HARF: Our position on settlements hasn’t changed.