A JewishPress.com article on Dec. 22 reported on a letter signed by nearly three dozen U.S. legislators, urging Secretary of State John Kerry to shutter the PLO offices in Washington, D.C. because the Palestinian Authority recruits and pays terrorists to murder Israelis.
Although the focus of the Congressional letter was on the payments to terrorists by the PA, the discussion in the State Department Daily Press Briefing referred to it as addressing a generalized, and long-recycled “incitement,” as the basis for calling to shut down the PLO office.
The Director of the State Department’s Press Office, Elizabeth Trudeau, who ran yesterday’s briefing, read from a prepared statement that also treated the Congressional letter as simply referring to a generalized issue of incitement.
The fact that the Palestinian Arab leadership pays its citizens monthly salaries to murder Israelis, and that the more heinous the murders, the more the terrorists or their families are paid, was not even deemed worthy of mention either in the official statement or by Trudeau herself. Or, for that matter, by the one reporter who raised the issue.
What follows is the discussion at the State Dept. briefing on Tuesday, Dec. 22, at which the PLO Office Congressional letter was discussed. The exchange was low key and completely ignored the motivation for requesting the PLO office be closed now. The State Dept.’s pro forma response completely ignored the issue of the Arab leadership treating its own people as mercenaries, enticing, inciting, recruiting and paying them to murder Israelis.
MATT LEE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: And on the other – the other topic is also from the Hill.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.
LEE: There are calls from Senator Cruz, among others, for the State Department – for the Administration to close down the PLO office in Washington because of what these lawmakers say is the Palestinian Authority’s continued incitement of violence against Israel. What’s your response to that?
For those who are not regular watchers of the videos of the State Dept. Press Briefings, the significance of Lee mentioning only Cruz’s name as the source of the Congressional letter will not be obvious. Whenever Senator Cruz is mentioned during these briefings, it is usually with an arched eyebrow and a conspiratorial “us against them” kind of exchange between the reporters and the State Dept. spokespeople, with “us” being the normal folks and “them,” i.e. Cruz, as the iconic whacky nut job. The lead signer of the letter is Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, and there are thirty more, in addition to Cruz.
But what is most significant is that Lee only mentioned the standard trope of “continued incitement of violence” as the purported trigger for the Congressional letter, when the truth is very different.
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. So we are aware of the letter. We’ve received the letter. We’ll respond to that letter, as we do with all of our congressional correspondence. As a former senator, Secretary Kerry very much respects the role of Congress on that and will engage.
And now the Spokeswoman begins to read from her briefing book, the official State Department statement in response to the Congressional letter:
I would note we believe closing the PLO office would be detrimental to our ongoing efforts to calm current tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, advance a two-state solution, and strengthen the U.S.-Palestinian partnership. We believe the PLO is an important partner, and, as the official representative body of the Palestinian people before the international community, the PLO has a role to play in our efforts to advance a two-state solution. Every administration, either Republican or Democrat, has regularly exercised available waiver authorities since 1994 allowing the PLO office to remain open.
Really? How can it be detrimental to “calm current tensions” to punish the very people who are paying their constituents to murder as many Israelis as possible? This is what should have been seized upon by anyone who was awake in that briefing room.
Is it really acceptable for all of those highly-placed journalists to accept at face value an American administration ignoring their so-called “partners” who not only verbally incite violence, but pay the terrorists a salary for the murders they’ve committed? And, more to the point, how is it possible that people placed in positions of the highest authority in this American government can adopt such a position? There is not even an acknowledgement, let alone a condemnation, of paying salaries for the job of murdering Israelis.
Back to Trudeau:
Obviously – and certainly we’ve spoken about it from this podium as well as people much higher than me in the Administration – we remain deeply concerned about ongoing violence in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. We completely reject the notion that there is any justification for violence against innocent civilians. We continue to stress the importance of – to Palestinian leadership of strongly opposing violence in all forms. We’ve said affirmative steps are needed to calm tensions and reduce violence.
Again with the vague references to all the parties engaging in the same level of mischief, the Israelis and the Palestinian Arab leadership. Also note that Jerusalem is considered a separate geographic unit from Israel, as is Gaza and the so-called West bank.
But most importantly, the State Department is calling for “affirmative steps” which it says are “needed to calm tensions and reduce violence.”
Here’s a suggestion being made in the form of a letter signed by elected members of the U.S. Congress that most certainly falls within the category of an affirmative step which the U.S. government can take, something that would send a clear statement to the parties to actually cease the incitement, and it is something that does not require action by a party over which the U.S. has no control. But this suggestion is completely ignored.
Back to Lee, attempting to nail down for himself and other journalists how to characterize the response of the State Department to the Congressional Letter:
LEE: Okay. So if – tell me if I’m wrong then. The response to this letter is going to be: Thank you very much for your letter. No, we —
Matt Lee, Associated Press, at State Dept. Press Briefing Dec. 22, 2015.
MS TRUDEAU: I can’t get ahead of that. What I’ll say is we will —
LEE: Well, what you just said is you think you would oppose —
MS TRUDEAU: What I’ll say is what our position is, which is we believe the PLO is an important partner in advancing the two-state solution.
Perhaps it is relevant that Trudeau does not even mention peace as part of the goal, just the creation of a Palestinian State.
LEE: Right. So – and you also said that you believe that the office – closing the office would be detrimental to your efforts to calm the situation.
MS TRUDEAU: Exactly.
LEE: So you’re opposed to this?
MS TRUDEAU: So we believe that the PLO has a valid place.
MS TRUDEAU: We’d like to see that office – and we’d oppose those efforts, yes.
The money line, finally, although still in the subjunctive mode (we would oppose? No, they will and do oppose), Trudeau ‘fesses up and gives permission for all the reporters to say the government opposes the Congressional effort.
LEEE: Okay. Thank you.
MS TRUDEAU: That’s great.
That’s it. Lee was able to nail down the official response of the State Department to a Congressional effort to take an “affirmative step” to “calm the situation.” That completely insipid response was based on a characterization of the Congressional letter which completely ignores blatantly terrorist activity by the Palestinian Arab leadership.
It appears, based on this exchange, that the U.S. is not at all serious about promoting peace between Arabs and Israelis. Instead, it is only focused on empowering the Palestinian Arab leadership, no matter that it actively and intensively promotes the murders of Israelis. The sole goal of the State Department with respect to the Arab-Israeli conflict is to create a Palestinian Arab state. The rest is empty window dressing.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus