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September 5, 2015 / 21 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘State Department’

US Clams Up on Whether Foreign Aid Helps PA Post Bond in Terror Suit [video]

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

The U.S. State Dept. clammed up Monday when asked bothersome questions concerning a federal court decision Monday to drastically lower the bond the Palestinian Authority has to put up in a $665 million lawsuit against the Ramallah-based regime.

Spokesman John Kirby also refused to say whether the judge had lowered the bond enough to satisfy the United States, which intervened in the case by arguing that a higher bond could bankrupt the Palestinian Authority and might damage the non-existent “peace process.”

TheJewishPress.com reported here yesterday :

The judge in a New York terrorism case that ended in a victory for the plaintiffs…imposed a $10 million bond on the defendants, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. The defendants must also make $1 million monthly payments during the duration of any appeals of the $655 million award to the plaintiffs at the end of the jury trial back in February…

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, which included the Israeli law firm Shurat HaDin, had requested a $30 million monthly bond be paid into an account until the case is resolved.

State Dept. spokesman John Kirby, who is supposed to provide information while making every effort to avoid embarrassing the government, made the Obama administration look a bit stupid Monday by turning on the tape recorder to repeat “no comment” over and over instead of directly answering questions.

Associated Press journalist Matt Lee asked:

Is that [$10 million bond]– in the Administration’s view, is that too much to be asking? Does this place an undue – does the Administration believe it places an undue burden on the Palestinians?

Kirby reiterated the facts of the U.S. intervention and concluded:

And I’m not going to be able to comment further.

Lee then asked:

Well, is the United States concerned at all that some or any of this money will be actual money that you might have provided to the Palestinians in the past?

Guess what Kirby answered?

I’m just not going to be able to comment further, Matt.

And when Lee asked why not answer, Kirby reiterated:

I’m not going to be able to comment further on this particular case.

Well, maybe Kirby could comment on Lee; question if “the judge in making his determination today, took your statement of interest on board, or is this onerous to the Palestinians or unhelpful to U.S. foreign policy?”

And Kirby turned on the tape recorder again to say:

I mean, I understand the question, Matt. I’m just not going to be able to comment further today.

Al Quds reporter Sayeed Erekat chimed in to ask:

You being their largest contributor, giving the Palestinians close to $500 million a year, will you guarantee those, like a loan guarantee for $10 million and 1 million more a month?

And Kirby answered, of course:

I don’t have anything further to add on this today.

The no-answer session begins at 48:32 in the video below.

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State Department Says Amb. Oren’s Criticisms of Obama ‘Absolutely Inaccurate and False’

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Not surprisingly, an op-ed written by former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren (currently a member of Knesset in the Kulanu Party) in which Oren was highly critical of President Obama’s treatment of Israel, was the topic of acerbic questioning during Wednesday’s State Department Daily Press Briefing.

The op-ed appeared in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, and Oren wrote that President Barack Obama “deliberately” abandoned a 40-year core policy regarding Jewish population centers in Judea and Samaria.

Oren wrote that President Obama is a “friend” of Israel but nevertheless maintained that while anyone can make a mistake, President Obama did so on purpose.

Despite the description of the exchange between ranking press corps member Matt Lee of the Associated Press and State Department Spokesman John Kirby which appeared in the extreme leftist Haaretz, Kirby did not simply reject Oren’s critical op-ed as the work of “a politician trying to sell a book.”

What Kirby did say was that neither he nor the Secretary of State had yet read Oren’s book, but that the op-ed “conveys his perspective as an advocate for his government, and now as a politician who’s promoting a book.”

However, Kirby rejected Oren’s allocation of blame, stating categorically that “the account of President Obama’s leadership in the U.S.-Israeli relationship, is absolutely inaccurate and false, and doesn’t reflect what actually happened in the past.”

Kirby also specifically stated that Secretary Kerry “knows” that Oren “had limited visibility into many of the private discussions and deliberations that he describes.”

Nonetheless, the usual boilerplate “unbreakable ties” between the U.S. and Israel, and Israel’s security being “sacrosanct” was repeated by Kirby, who also quoted Secretary Kerry, with whom he said he spoke that morning, as saying, “it’s more important that we move forward in a constructive way than dwell on these accusations, false as they may be.”

More PA Lobbying from the State Dept Briefing Room

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Can you imagine if some Jewish reporter for, say, JewishPress.com, repeatedly prodded the State Department spokesperson to provide additional funding to Israel during the daily State Department Press Briefings?

How long do you think something like that would go on before someone, whether from the State Department, one of the other media outlets, or one of the reporter’s employers told the Jewish reporter to stop being so unprofessional or they would be removed from the State Department press briefings?

So what is the deal with Said Arikat?

Why does no one raise an eyebrow when when, month after month, Arikat acts as a lobbyist for the Palestinian Authority instead of a professional journalist? Why is Arikat permitted to whine over the reduction in funding to the PA, and to beg the State Department to intervene?

It happened yet again at the Daily Briefing on Friday, April 17.

This is how the exchange went between the acting State Department Spokesperson, Marie Harf, and Said Arikat (with emphasis added):

ARIKAT: Can I ask you a quick question on the Palestinian issue?

MS HARF: You can.

ARIKAT: Okay. There was a meeting today between the European and American consul generals with the Palestinian prime minister to discuss the financial situation. The Israelis are holding 1.7 billion shekels, or $500 million. But they’re saying that the American consul general suggested that there may be a resolution in the next 24 hours. Are you aware of anything like this?

MS HARF: I’m not going to get into our private conversations. We want there to be a resolution as soon as possible, Said.

ARIKAT: In the event that the funds are not released and they continue to be frozen and more funds are frozen, is there any sort of – like the old days, when you guys used to have a waiver with the government —

MS HARF: “The old days.”

ARIKAT: I mean before, let’s say, a year ago or so —

MS HARF: Okay.

ARIKAT: — when the President had a waiver of some sort to infuse some funds into the PA and save it from collapse as has happened in the past. Is there anything of the sort this time around?

MS HARF: I haven’t heard anything, Said. We think this just needs to be resolved.

So, for at least the sixth time in less than a year, Arikat has transformed the State Department daily press briefings into a lobbying session in which a Palestinian Arab reporter working for a Palestinian Arab media outlet attempts to wheedle money out of the State Department for the Palestinian Authority, and/or uses the opportunity to present a one-sided version of facts about the Middle East to the State Department press corps.

Try to imagine what would happen if someone who was perceived as pro-Israel acted the way Arikat consistently does.

But no one ever calls Arikat on his gross non-professionalism. It is not only grossly unfair because it creates an unbalanced theater in which truth is expected to prevail.

It is also unfair because failing to demand professional behavior from Arikat is a shining example of the soft bigotry of low expectations – something that takes place on a regular basis in the U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefings.

US ‘Condemns’ Hezbollah Attack on IDF

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Secretary of State spokesperson Jen Psaki issued a statement on behalf of the United States late Wednesday night (Israel time) strongly condemning Hezbollah’s attack from Lebanon on “IDF forces.”

Israel’s “greatest friend and ally” correctly the attack was a violation of the ceasefire agreement that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War but failed to say that in fact the attack was not directed solely at Israel’s army but rather at Israeli civilians as well. It was directed at all Israelis.

Six deadly missiles were fired into northern Israeli territory from a distance of approximately three kilometers deep into southern Lebanon, reaching at least two kilometers into northern Israel. They struck a convoy in which civilian vehicles were traveling as well as two completely unprotected IDF jeeps that were clearly not armored and not intended for military conflict.

Two IDF soldiers were killed, two IDF vehicles were incinerated, and seven other soldiers were wounded. Civilians in the cars that followed were severely traumatized and a few were injured. A civilian home in a Druze village, Ghajar, also was struck by a missile, caught fire and was destroyed. That civilian family is now homeless and other civilians in that village and others were also severely traumatized by the attack and the battle that followed, which also cost a UNIFIL peacekeeper from Spain his life.

This was not a military operation aimed at military engagement. This was a terrorist attack on a random target traveling on a civilian road and a random civilian home in a civilian village. Hezbollah was aiming at civilians, in fact.

The United States has deliberately chosen to ignore these inconvenient and uncomfortable facts in its statement of condemnation. Also missing from the statement is the word “terror.”

That’s odd, since Hezbollah appears on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations but then again, the Obama administration has from the start refused to use the term “Islamist” when discussing terror. Instead it refers to “radical extremism” or “extremist attacks.”

The terms make no sense since extremism cannot be anything other than radical and none of the attacks that have taken place in the past six years of the Obama administration have been associated with anything else other than radical Islamist terror groups. The policy is disingenuous at best.

Perhaps the real issue is connected to Iran and its current round of talks with world powers over “limiting” its nuclear development activities. As if Tehnran actually intends to honestly comply with such an agreement, even if one is reached.

Here’s the statement issued by the State Department. At least it actually condemns the correct side; that’s something anyway.

“The United States strongly condemns Hezbollah’s attack today from Lebanon on Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in blatant violation of the cease fire between Lebanon and Israel and UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks. We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon. We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation.

“We are deeply concerned by reports of injuries and casualties on both sides of the Blue Line, including the reported deaths of IDF soldiers and the death of a Spanish UN peacekeeper from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). We extend our sincere condolences to the victims’ families. We also stand with UNIFIL as it fulfills its important mandate to maintain peace and security along the Blue Line.

“Hezbollah continues to incite violence and instability inside Lebanon by attacking Israel and by its presence and fighting inside Syria, which violates Lebanese leaders’ agreed policy of dissociating Lebanon from foreign conflicts.”

State Dept. Warns Americans of ‘High Risk’ of Kidnapping Worldwide

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

The U.S. Department of State has updated its Worldwide Caution for Americans traveling abroad. Specifically, the warning of a high risk of kidnapping, terrorists actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests in the wake of the airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.

In response to the airstrikes, ISIS directed its followers and supporters “to attack foreigners wherever they are.”

“Current information suggests that ISIS, al-Qaeda, its affiliated organizations and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. and Western interests in Europe,” the warning states.

In the Middle East, the State Department notes “credible information indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests.” Syria in particular, but also Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Libya are all populated by various Islamist terrorist groups which see harming U.S. citizens as a positive good.

(Do you notice a country that is missing from the list? A country whose international airport the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority shut down because of danger just a few months ago? That’s right. Israel. Nowhere on the list of countries in which U.S. citizens need fear attacks by terrorists.)

Similarly, in Africa, Islamist terrorist organizations including al Qaeda, AQIM, Al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram have successfully carried out terrorist attacks against westerners and others in Mali, Senegal, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria, Djibouti and Eritrea.

In South Asia, the U.S. government continues to receive information that terrorist groups may be planning attacks, “possibly against U.S. government facilities, U.S. citizens or U.S. interests.” These threats constitute credible dangers for U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.

There is also information which the State Department deems credible for plans of attacks against U.S. citizens in East Asia, and the Pacific, including the southern Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

US State Dept Attacks Its Ally, Israel Over UNRWA Human Shields

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

The U.S. State Department has attacked its ally, Israel, for returning fire in combat when Hamas and allied terrorists shelled its soldiers or fired rockets at Israeli civilians from within and around UNWRA facilities.

It is standard military practice that American own troops have carried out thousands of times in Afghanistan, Mosul and elsewhere around the world without ever issuing even one leaflet of warning to the population, let alone a phone call requesting residents to leave.

The buildings under discussion are owned by the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNRWA) and were sheltering Gazans who were displaced by the combat initiated by Hamas. The situation made a very juicy, deliberate photo op for the terrorists, as noted in the terrorist training manual captured earlier in the summer by the IDF.

The terrorists were exploiting the United Nations facilities as rocket launching sites and in some cases, as weapons storage facilities, and were operating very close to the buildings where the Gaza civilians were staying, in a deliberate and cynical use of human shields. All this has been documented.

An UNRWA health center and attached distribution center in Jabaliya were exploited by Hamas terrorists for use as a rocket firing site from which to launch attacks against Israeli civilians. Satellite imagery documented the evidence.

An UNRWA health center and attached distribution center in Jabaliya were exploited by Hamas terrorists for use as a rocket firing site from which to launch attacks against Israeli civilians. Satellite imagery documented the evidence.

And all of which seemingly has been ignored by the State Department, which scored Israel for returning fire to the source of attacks on its civilians and soldiers.

State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at a briefing this past Thursday, “We were horrified by the strikes that hit UNWRA facilities.”

As a matter of fact, it is not at all clear that any Israeli shells actually hit UNRWA facilities while they were occupied. There is satellite imagery and video documentation that the buildings were empty at the time that a single Israeli shell struck an UNWRA building.

Other shells that struck around UNRWA buildings and in a courtyard and were aimed directly with surgical precision at the terrorists who were being targeted precisely because they were firing rockets at Israeli civilians, and at Israeli soldiers.

Synagogue in Ashdod destroyed by Hamas rocket fire launched from Gaza.

Synagogue in Ashdod destroyed by Hamas rocket fire launched from Gaza.

None of which apparently mattered to the United States, even though the use of human shields does not preclude the legal right to wage war against a legitimate military target in international law.

“The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians,” Harf said. “Israeli authorities say they’re investigating. We expect these to be investigated thoroughly and promptly, and we’ll continue pushing them to do so.”

A bit hostile for a representative of a nation that bills itself as Israel’s “greatest friend in the world,” no? She’s starting to sound a lot more like a few other leaders we could name, none of whom are friends of Israel these days.

Harf’s remarks followed a report issued earlier in the day by the Human Rights Watch organization, which has accused Israel of committing war crimes with “indiscriminate targeting of civilians” at three UNRWA schools — without offering evidence to back up its claims, of course.

What Could Possibly Still Be On the Table?

Monday, September 1st, 2014

I’ve got to believe that today’s story about Kerry trying to restart Israeli final status talks with the Palestinian Authority is the product of a delusional mind.

Let’s step back a second, and ask what could possibly still be on the table after the summer we just had.

1) PA control over the Jordan Valley?

Nothing would make ISIS happier than no more Israeli forces poised to defend Jordan from invasion and takeover. Not to mention no Israeli forces protecting Israel’s border.

Would the State Department really abandon Jordan that way?

2) Israel pulling out of parts of Judea and Samaria?

Nothing would make Hamas happier than Abbas no longer having IDF protection, so they can more easily overthrow the PA there too.

Would the State Department really abandon Abbas that way?

3) Israel releasing the recidivist terrorists it just recaptured?

Nothing would make Hamas happier or more popular on the street than the release of its terrorists.

Would the State Department really strengthen Hamas that way?

I know there are cynical people that would say the answer to all these questions is yes.

But does anyone really believe the State Department is so delusional, shortsighted and determined to hurt America’s only real ally in the Middle East?

OK. Don’t answer that.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/final-status-talks-redux-no-way/2014/09/01/

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