MR. TONER: I’ve looked into it. I don’t have much to say about it beyond the fact that it’s really a question better directed to the Israeli Government for their specifics on their border procedures.
My understanding is that this stamp is for – is an entry stamp that permits travel —
QUESTION: Into the West Bank?
MR. TONER: — into the West Bank.
QUESTION: But you do recognize the West Bank as occupied territory; correct?
MR. TONER: Again, this is a question, I think, on the actual stamp and what it says. I think it’s best directed to the Israeli Government.
QUESTION: Well, can’t you see if there is more that you can say about this, considering the fact that you took great pains to say that the Chinese map and their map and the Chinese passport was wrong? And this would seem to follow along the same lines. If the Israelis are now using words that would imply that they’re – that would – that might imply a claim over territory, it would seem to be roughly the same as the Chinese passport issue, which you said you were raising with the Chinese.
MR. TONER: I wouldn’t conflate the two issues. I could look to see if we have anything more to say on it, but I think – the emphasis on the word “might” – I think that this is a stamp that they provide for –
QUESTION: Well, the point is that I don’t think –
MR. TONER: – travelers into Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of the West Bank.
QUESTION: Well, have you talked –
MR. TONER: I have not. We’ve not sought clarification on it. I’ll check.
QUESTION: You’ve not? Because I would think that you might want to, to make sure that this isn’t – this is not something that prejudges the outcome of a negotiation, which is the same thing as the Chinese passport –
MR. TONER: I’ll look into it. But obviously you know what our position is on that, but I’ll look into it.
QUESTION: Well, then you would have a problem with it if –
MR. TONER: I’ll look into it, Matt.
QUESTION: Would you be concerned that this might be interpreted as creeping annexation?
MR. TONER: Again, I think I just told Matt I don’t have many details, beyond the fact that this is a stamp that their customs and border agency provides stamps on passports for people to go into these Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. I’ll try to get more details if we have any on the actual names that they’re using.
QUESTION: And do you feel – there was an editorial today in The New York Times saying that perhaps it is time for the Administration to retake the lead in sort of re-igniting the talks or the peace process. Do you feel that this is the feeling in this building?
MR. TONER: Well, I think, as I said yesterday to Matt, this is a difficult and complex process. I don’t think we’ve ever backed away from our efforts to get the parties back to the negotiating table, but we have had some setbacks. Last week’s vote in the UN was a setback. The Israeli announcement on Friday was a setback. But we continue to work closely with our partners on this to get them back to what we all want to see, which is a negotiated settlement.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
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