What’s the US saying about Palestine?
Beginning today, Palestine in America will publish statements from various U.S. officials, as well as press briefings that relate to Palestine. The U.S. does not have consistent standards when it comes to Palestine and Israel and this will be a space to keep track of U.S. politicians who protect and enable Israel’s crimes against Palestine.
At the White House on Monday, a question was raised about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mulling the idea of revoking benefits and travel rights of some Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.
Question: And lastly, any response to the Israeli Prime Minister saying they’re going to take another look at the status of Palestinian residents in parts of eastern Jerusalem that could take away residency rights from people that currently possess them?
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest: Josh, I haven’t actually seen those reports. Someone on our national security staff had read through those reports and what I’ve been advised is that it is not the understanding of the U.S. government that this is a policy proposal that is actually being actively considered by the Israeli government. If it were, it would obviously be of some concern to us. And what I’ll do is just take this opportunity to reiterate is the importance of all sides avoiding provocative actions and rhetoric, and working cooperatively to try to restore calm.
On Tuesday, a question was raised at the State Department about plans to install closed circuit cameras in Jerusalem.
QUESTION: Okay. When the Secretary – well, when the Secretary was in Jordan and he announced this camera, the CC – closed circuit television or whatever it’s going to be, the cameras at the Temple Mount —
U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby: Yeah.
QUESTION: So the Jordanians have welcomed this. The Israelis have welcomed it. Waqf has welcomed it. The only people who don’t seem to be too thrilled about this idea are the Palestinians. Is this a disappointment to you? Do you think that this is a mistake, them not embracing this proposal?
MR KIRBY: I think we’d let the Palestinian Authority speak for themselves in terms of —
QUESTION: Well, they have spoken and they say they think it’s a trap.
MR KIRBY: I’m going to let – we’ll let them speak for themselves. The Secretary talked about this over the weekend. He described it as a potential game changer. He still believes it can be exactly that because of the increased transparency that would proffer to allow all sides to see what’s going on. So he’s fully in support of the installation and the use of these cameras.
QUESTION: Well, okay. But I’m not asking you to speak for the Palestinians. I’m asking you to respond to find out whether or not you are disappointed or angry or whatever —
MR KIRBY: I think we’ll let —
QUESTION: — at the fact that they have not said that they are pleased with this idea. And quite the opposite, they said they’re suspicious of it because they think that it’s aimed at spying on them essentially.
MR KIRBY: It’s not aimed at spying on anybody. It’s aimed at increasing transparency. So there’s no reason for anybody to be suspicious about the use of closed circuit cameras —
QUESTION: Okay. So you —
MR KIRBY: — any more than when you go shopping at Target or Wal-Mart and you’re walking through the parking lot, there are cameras. And all that is to the betterment of good order and safety, and so there’s no reason for anybody to be suspicious of it. I’ll let them speak for what they feel of it. Nothing has changed —
QUESTION: Okay. I’m not asking you to speak to that.
MR KIRBY: I know that. But you want me to characterize it, and I won’t do that in terms of characterizing their attitudes toward it. There’s no reason for anybody to be suspicious of this particular idea, and the Secretary continues to believe it could be very, very helpful.
QUESTION: Okay, all right. Did the Secretary actually raise this with President Abbas when they met in Amman?
MR KIRBY: The Secretary talked to President Abbas about a range of things that —
QUESTION: Including the camera?
MR KIRBY: I’m not going to get into the specific details of that discussion, except to say he discussed with him a range of issues that he believed would be helpful in restoring calm and ending the violence.
QUESTION: Do you know if the Secretary spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the camera idea when they met in Berlin on Thursday?
MR KIRBY: Yes, he – of course he did, because I mean, the prime minister —
QUESTION: He did.
MR KIRBY: — later came out and said that he was in favor of it.
QUESTION: Right. But there were conversations post-Thursday – phone conversations that he had —
MR KIRBY: Well, again, I’m not going to get into details of every conversation.
QUESTION: Well, can I ask one on this? I mean, so you had very specific things that you were looking for the prime minister to do in terms of this camera, making this announcement about the status quo and the Temple Mount and such, but you were also looking for President Abbas to take certain steps to try to end incitement and speak out in terms of violence against innocent civilians. Do you think that President Abbas has taken enough leadership in terms of trying to put an end to this kind of violence?
MR KIRBY: We continue —
QUESTION: At least in his public statements?
MR KIRBY: We continue to want all sides, as I said earlier, to —
QUESTION: That’s not – wasn’t my question.
MR KIRBY: I know that’s not your question. We want all sides —
QUESTION: You got – you want both sides to take steps, and you specifically saw —
MR KIRBY: — to take steps to ratchet down the violence and restore calm.
QUESTION: You specifically saw a step by Prime Minister Netanyahu, whether the —
MR KIRBY: Which we welcomed.
QUESTION: Which you welcomed, but I don’t see you welcoming any steps by President Abbas, maybe because that’s – he hasn’t taken any?
MR KIRBY: I’m going to leave it the way I said it.
QUESTION: Well, if you’re going —
MR KIRBY: We want all sides to take affirmative actions —
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry —
MR KIRBY: — in word and in deed.
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry specifically called on Palestinian leaders to speak out against incitement. Have you seen these statements?
MR KIRBY: I would just say we continue to want that as the goal. We want —
QUESTION: Well, by saying that you continue to want that, that would suggest that you haven’t seen it.
MR KIRBY: I think it’s something that we want to see continuously observed, which is a continuous effort —
QUESTION: Well, are you seeing that now?
MR KIRBY: We want to see a continuous effort by all sides —
QUESTION: Well, are you seeing a continuous effort?
MR KIRBY: We want to see a continuous effort by all sides going forward. I’m not going to get into – just like I said yesterday, I’m not going to get into characterizing each and every incident and each and every word that’s uttered. What – the reason he went on the trip —
QUESTION: I’m not asking for like – I’m not asking for a specific statement that he made, because I can’t point to any specific statements that he made. I’m asking if you see a concerted effort by President Abbas to put an end to this incitement.
MR KIRBY: We would continue to find helpful statements on all sides that help lead to the discouragement of violence and a restoration of calm.