US State Department briefings always make for such interesting reading.
Here are some highlghts from Tuesday’s briefing.
On demilitarizing Hamas being important only to Israel:
QUESTION: But is the Administration convinced that Hamas has to disarm? Because one of the – and if it is, how exactly does that happen? Because it doesn’t seem to be addressed in that piece.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t know that that piece was meant to be a rollout document or – of any sort, certainly not officially from the government. But demilitarization, the point I was making, is something we certainly support. How we get there is a good question.
QUESTION: But is that —
MS. PSAKI: There are a lot of parties that will have that discussion. There are also pieces – this is just the last thing I’ll say. There are also priorities that the Palestinians have, including opening up some of the crossings, like Rafah crossing, more access to goods, economic opportunity, that are some of their asks in this discussion. So obviously just like in any negotiation, there are pieces that both sides are interested in.
QUESTION: But is disarmament or demilitarization, is that critical to these talks in Egypt?
MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s critical in the sense that it’s a big priority for the Israelis, and obviously they are an important party in the discussions.
Here are some highlights of Monday’s briefing.
On Qatar helping Hamas:
QUESTION: About this. Netanyahu have said during the last hours that there is a country that is helping all the situation, and he mentioned Qatar. He said there are some countries that are helping Hamas in taking all these weapons. Also he mentioned Iran. Is the U.S. talking with some of these countries to see what’s going on in their relation with Hamas?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we have certainly been talking to the Qataris. We have not been talking to the Iranians about this, no. The Qataris have been an important interlocutor, and they were through the course of last week, not because they need to be in the middle of it, but because they have a relationship – an influential relationship with Hamas. And certainly we can sit there and talk with the countries that we all agree with, but that hardly creates a successful negotiation. So that’s why we’ve been engaged. The Secretary remains engaged with the Qataris and the Turks, and I expect that will continue.
QUESTION: But the U.S. agrees with the Israelis that the Qataris is helping Hamas in getting all these weapons that they are using to throw to Israel?
MS. PSAKI: I think that we – our view is that the Qataris can play a role here and that they have a relationship with Hamas in working towards a resolution.
QUESTION: I have just one more.
QUESTION: Do you believe that Qatar is providing Hamas with weapons?
MS. PSAKI: I did not state that.
On the interrupted phone conversation between Netanyahu and Kerry:
QUESTION: What kind of communication error? Did Netanyahu hang up on him?
MS. PSAKI: Sometimes —
QUESTION: Was that the —
MS. PSAKI: Sometimes calls get cut off. You – it was a brief call, is what I’m trying to convey. Expect they’ll —
QUESTION: Well, was it – yeah, but your —
MS. PSAKI: There were —
QUESTION: — communication error —
MS. PSAKI: There was nothing —
QUESTION: — wasn’t one side slamming the phone down on the other, was it?
MS. PSAKI: There was nothing that interesting about it, no. That was not the case. That was not the case.