What’s the US saying about Palestine, today? Nov. 6 edition
At the U.S. State Department press briefing on Friday, a reporter asked if the peace talks will continue and be agreed upon in the next 14 months of President Barack Obama’s term. Kirby expressed that the issue is important to the U.S. and that a two-state solution is in the best interest of both parties.
QUESTION: John, was the Secretary aware before yesterday late afternoon or early evening that the White House has 1decided that the window has closed on the chances for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement during the President’s – rest of the President’s term?
MR KIRBY: So what I’d say, Matt, is there was nothing new in that statement from the White House briefing. It simply repeated an assessment President Obama gave last spring, and the prime minister of Israel made clear his position that the circumstances were not right for achieving a two-state solution.
We have also made clear that we continue to believe that a two-state solution is absolutely vital not only for peace between Israelis and Palestinians but for the long-term security of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state. We continue to believe that the status quo is not sustainable and that current trends on the ground are imperiling the viability of the two-state solution. That’s why we will continue to engage the parties – with the parties to encourage both of them to demonstrate with their policies and actions, not just their words, their commitment to a two-state solution. And if they demonstrate that they are serious about moving forward towards a two-state solution, we will do whatever we can to help them achieve that objective. Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has repeatedly said that he does not want a one-state solution and a bi-national state. So the real question is: What concrete steps and policies are they prepared to take to avoid that outcome?
QUESTION: All right. Well, before I get into asking you about your response, does that mean that the Secretary is still going to try to get them into peace talks?
MR KIRBY: Well, the Secretary —
QUESTION: For the next – what is it – 14 months?
MR KIRBY: Well, I think – I think —
QUESTION: Over the course of the rest of the time that he is Secretary of State, is he going to continue to try to bring the two sides together?
MR KIRBY: He will continue to discuss with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas as well as regional leaders over the – as he has over the past several weeks —
MR KIRBY: — this issue of the importance, the vitality of a two-state solution. I mean, there’s – nothing’s changed about our belief —
QUESTION: So he hasn’t —
MR KIRBY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: I’m just – the comments from the White House – people at the White – the NSC seem to imply that there is no point in trying to get them back together to – into negotiations because there’s not enough time. Is that the Secretary’s view, or are you saying that that’s the wrong impression of what the White House said?
MR KIRBY: I think the White House official, if I could, put it well that the main thing the President would want to hear from Prime Minister Netanyahu is that without peace talks, without peace talks how does he want to move forward to prevent a one-state solution, stabilize the situation on the ground, and to signal that he’s committed to the two-state solution. Nothing’s changed about our commitment to a two-state solution and our belief, our policy – our belief that that’s the right path forward here.
But there’s nothing new in the statements that were made last night about the difficulty of getting there given the makeup – as the President said himself – given the makeup of the Netanyahu government and given the challenges that President Abbas has before him. Again, the President was – has been consistently, I think, very honest about, given those challenges, the difficulty that there is in getting to a two-state solution by the end of next year.
QUESTION: I understand that. What I’m getting at is has – is the Secretary going to stop his efforts to get the two sides back into a negotiation? Is that effectively over or is he going to continue it?
MR KIRBY: The Secretary has every intention of continuing —
QUESTION: All right.
MR KIRBY: — to discuss this, the importance of the two-state solution, with leaders in the region and to continue to pursue that as an end.
QUESTION: Through negotiations?
MR KIRBY: Well, again, right now our focus is on getting the violence to stop and restoring calm.
QUESTION: I get that.
MR KIRBY: But if you’re –
QUESTION: What I’m trying – I understand what you’re saying, but it’s not exactly what I’m asking. What I’m asking is: Is the Secretary still intending to push the idea of negotiations to get – to the end of a two-state solution?
MR KIRBY: We continue to assess all the possibilities and remain in touch with key stakeholders to find a way forward that advances the interests we and others share in a negotiated two-state solution.
QUESTION: Okay, negotiated. So negotiations, you think, are still —
MR KIRBY: I think that will be –
QUESTION: — are still possible. Well, all right. The other thing you said is there was nothing new in what the White House said. Well, the White House doesn’t think that. I mean, I’m looking at this one report in The Jerusalem Post that says, “Not since the Clinton Administration, Malley said” – referring to Rob Malley at the NSC – “has the White House made the assessment that time has run out in a president’s term to pursue negotiations.”
Well, first of all, that’s factually incorrect if it’s what he said, because I can remember very well the Bush Administration deciding in November that – of its last year that there wasn’t enough time and that the Annapolis process was dead. But they – this, if this is accurate, the White House seems to think that this is new. You’re saying it’s not?
MR KIRBY: I’m looking at something the President said on May 15th.
QUESTION: Yeah, but this is – I’m talking about something that the NSC —
MR KIRBY: Well, I —
QUESTION: The people at the NSC said yesterday not in the spring.
MR KIRBY: I stand by what I said that there’s nothing new in these comments about the difficulty of achieving of a two-state solution by the end of next year. And again, I’d point you – the President himself, May 15th – and this is his words not mine – “And what I think at this point, realistically we can do is try to rebuild trust, not through a big overarching deal, which I don’t think is probably possible in the next year given the makeup of the Netanyahu government, given the challenges I think that exist for President Abbas. But if we can start building some trust around, for example, relieving the humanitarian suffering inside of Gaza and helping the ordinary people in Gaza to recover from the devastation that happened last year.” And then he goes on, “If we” – “Then I continue to believe that the logic of a two-state solution will reassert itself.” That’s May 15th and that’s the President.