What’s the U.S. saying about Palestine, today? Kerry’s meeting with Palestinian, Israeli leaders
Toner was asked what Kerry plans on discussing with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders at their meeting Tuesday. Kerry’s commitment to ending the violence is his main focus, according to Toner.
A reporter asked if Kerry has any plans on how to end the violence, and if that includes lowering number of checkpoints and allowing more entry of Palestinian workers. Toner shared that Kerry has some ideas, including those already being worked on, like the surveillance cameras that will be installed in Jerusalem.
Toner also said that even though the U.S. does not agree with the settlements, it does not believe they are the root cause of the violence.
A reporter also asked about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ role and if he holds any power or influence. Toner stated that the U.S. believes he has influence and authority, and would like to see him take steps to help reduce the tensions.
QUESTION: As Secretary Kerry gets ready to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders tomorrow, what is he bringing with him? What does he – what does he hope to achieve? I mean, seeing how volatile the situation is – it’s probably been the worst since he was there last, during the summer of 2014.
MR TONER: Right. Right. And there were just recently – even violence today. The Secretary actually spoke to this in a roundtable earlier he did with journalists in the UAE. And he said it best: We’ve got to keep trying. We’ve got to keep sitting down at the table with all sides to get some concrete steps in place to try to calm things down and to try to reverse this kind of ongoing cycle of violence and reduce the rhetoric, as we’ve talked about many times. But we still need to see – and this isn’t something we can from one day to the next change. But we’ve got to see efforts on both sides to reduce tension.
QUESTION: Seeing that maybe restarting the talks is a tall order at this time, does he have any kind of concrete suggestions – perhaps lowering the number of checkpoints, or allowing more entry of Palestinian workers, or something like this? Does he have real, tangible things that he’s going to present to the Israelis and to the Palestinians in order to get some sort of – or to defuse the tensions?
MR TONER: Sure. I think – I mean, again, as he said, we do have ideas. Some of those ideas coming out of the previous trip to Jordan and to – and meetings about putting cameras up and being able to provide that kind of transparency or surveillance – but there’s other concrete measures that can be taken. I’m not going to necessarily preview them right now. But I think that’s part of the impetus for this trip, is just to not lose any momentum in trying to get down – or continue to talk about steps that I said both sides can take to end the violence.
QUESTION: What kind of steps? I mean, I’m sorry, but I just —
MR TONER: That’s okay.
QUESTION: — wonder —
MR TONER: That’s okay.
QUESTION: — what kind of steps can both sides take? I mean, you want the Palestinians to —
MR TONER: Well —
QUESTION: — let’s say, tone down the rhetoric, if there is any —
MR TONER: Right.
QUESTION: — and the Israelis to stop building settlements? That kind of thing?
MR TONER: Right. I mean, that’s exactly right. I mean, those are again – again, we’ve made no link between settlements and the violence. You know what our policy is regarding settlements.
QUESTION: You don’t believe there is a link between settlements and the violence?
MR TONER: Let me continue. But what we need to see is a focused and concentrated effort on both sides on reducing the level of rhetoric and, again, finding steps that can build confidence, that can reduce tensions, and as I said, end this cycle of day-to-day daily violence that’s ongoing that’s really in no one’s interest and only serve to perpetuate the tensions. I’m not going to get into specifics. That’s for him to discuss on the ground with Palestinian leaders as well as with Israeli authorities.
QUESTION: And lastly, what do you expect Mahmoud Abbas to do in, let’s say, the Jerusalem larger area because he does not exercise any control over it? Most of the flashpoints in Area C, which really he does not control either – in fact, the Israelis just keep going into an area that he should exercise sovereignty over, which is Area A. So what do you expect him to do to basically lower the level of violence?
MR TONER: Your essential question is you – you’re saying, do we believe he has control over the – over the —
QUESTION: Right, right. I mean, he does not exercise any authority or control over the Jerusalem area.
MR TONER: Well, he is the – he represents the Palestinian leadership. We do believe he still has influence and authority, and we want to see him take concrete steps to reduce the tensions. But – yeah, please.