What’s the US saying about Palestine, today? Oct. 30th edition
At the U.S. State Department daily press conference on Friday, a question in regards to some Palestinians leaders presenting to the International Criminal Court was asked. The reporter asked the State Department spokesperson John Kirby if he was aware of the presentation and if he has an issue with it. The reporter also brings up the continuous attacks that have been happening this month, nearly 70 Palestinians have been killed to this date.
QUESTION: No, wait, wait. Israel and Palestinians. One, have you seen or are you aware of the presentation that some Palestinian leaders made today to the International Criminal Court? And if you are, do you have anything to say about it, since —
MR KIRBY: Seen the reports of the meeting. Obviously, I’d refer you to the Palestinians for further detail, but Matt, our position on the issue has not changed. We don’t believe that the Palestinians are eligible to accede to the Rome Statute and to join the ICC.
QUESTION: Well, yeah, but do you have an issue with them going to the court and talking with the prosecutor?
MR KIRBY: We’ve also made it very clear that we oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive, so again, I’d let you – I would point you to the Palestinians to speak to what they did and the outcome of the meeting, but nothing’s changed about our policy.
QUESTION: Right, but I – but you object to the Palestinians even going to the prosecutor and talking to them?
MR KIRBY: I didn’t say that. I said we —
QUESTION: That’s what I’m trying to figure out.
MR KIRBY: I didn’t say that. I mean, the meeting is for them to speak to, not for me to characterize whether we object to it or not. What we object to and continue to oppose is any accession to the Rome Statute by Palestinian authorities.
QUESTION: Okay. There were a couple more attacks today. Do you have anything to – in Israel and the West Bank. Palestinians —
MR KIRBY: See, we – certainly we’re aware of more attacks. I think there’s – I – it was just before coming out here; I didn’t have a whole lot more information about them, but we’re aware of them. And obviously, we continue to urge calm and for an end to the violence that’s not serving anybody’s interest.
QUESTION: Are you disappointed at all that the Secretary’s efforts appear not to have produced the kind of calm that you were all hoping?
MR KIRBY: Obviously, we’re all disappointed that there hasn’t been an end to the violence, but I don’t know that I would say the Secretary is disappointed that somehow we have failed here. The Secretary continues to feel that there is the potential for progress. But it’s going to require a continued effort by the leaders on both – on all sides, and that’s what he talked about in Amman last week. He still believes that the installation of security cameras, whose footage will be available to the public 24/7, could be, as he put it, a real game changer.
So, obviously, the Secretary is disappointed that innocent people are still getting hurt and killed. Nobody wants to see that. But he still believes that there is hope for some measure of optimism here based on his meetings last week.
QUESTION: Okay. Are you aware of any progress that’s been made along the – in installing and getting those cameras online?
MR KIRBY: No. I know that the technical teams from Israel and Jordan were supposed to meet. I don’t know what the status is of those (inaudible).
QUESTION: And then the last one. Palestinians have complained or are complaining about road restrictions, road blocks in and around –
MR KIRBY: Yeah.
QUESTION: — the whole area that have led apparently to some ambulances not being able to get through. There was also – I think police went into – Israeli police went into a hospital demanding Palestinian records. Do you guys have anything – health records. Do you have anything on that?
MR KIRBY: I don’t have anything on the issue of health records. As to the impeding of access, again, first I’d like to say we remain concerned about the violence, and we’re following the issues related to checkpoints and closures in East Jerusalem including reports about the impact of security measures on an East Jerusalem hospital. Of course, we support Israel’s right to ensure the security of its residents. Nothing’s changed about that. But we hope that any measures Israel takes will minimize the impact on the vast majority of nonviolent citizens. And again, we remain deeply concerned about the situation and continue to urge all sides to take affirmative actions to restore calm.
QUESTION: John, Israel continues to hold some two dozen bodies of dead Palestinians – young Palestinians, refusing to turn them over to their families. Do you have any comment on that?
MR KIRBY: Said, I don’t have any information to verify that. I don’t know. So I just don’t have anything for you on it.
QUESTION: Okay. And also to just follow up on what you were saying on the excessive use of force, let’s say like in Aida Camp yesterday outside Bethlehem, they basically were telling people, “We’re going to gas you to death.” I mean, some really awful inciting statements and so on. So it seems to be accelerating. Isn’t that – doesn’t that translate into an excessive use of force?
MR KIRBY: I appreciate that you want me to characterize incidents. And as I said before, I’m not going to do that. For every comment or every incident, I’m simply not going to get into characterizing them, Said. I will simply repeat what I’ve said before: We want all sides to take affirmative action and steps to end the violence and to stress and to urge calm. That’s what we really want to see happen here, because you – the ultimate goal here is for people to be able to live in peace, to go about their lives safely and securely. And that’s what the Secretary is focused on, and that’s why he was grateful for the time that he had with leaders last week. That’s why he’s glad that all agreed to the installation of these cameras. And he looks forward to seeing that happen and getting them in use to increase transparency. And that’s what we’re focused on.
Okay, thanks everybody. Have a great weekend.