Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State YouTube screenshot
U.S. State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby at Daily Press Briefing, Oct. 15, 2015.

( The US State Dept. daily press conference transcript used to include section headings on issues the spokesperson discussed with reporters, such as Iran, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Iran, Syria/Russia/Isil/Region, China, Russia/Ukraine Yemen/Saudi Arabia, and Israel/Palestine. On Wednesday, the section dealing with Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been renamed “Middle East Peace,” which suggests the Obama Administration now believes that as soon as the disputes in an area that is 1/640 the size of the region with 1/30 of the population, peace would be restored in the entire Middle East.

The Wednesday press briefing with State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby offered more surprises, namely that the Administration now views Israel as working too zealously to repress terrorist attacks, in the spirit of Wednesday night’s Mahmoud Abbas’s speech which placed the responsibility for the violence, and war crimes, on Israel.


The first reporter’s question cited Abbas, who was “basically accusing Israel of conducting summary executions, and so on. He’s threatening to take it to the international court – the International Criminal Court. He’s saying that we will not be held hostage to agreements that Israel is not adhering to, and so on. Apparently he’s talking about Oslo. He’s saying that the Palestinians must have a recourse to resist an occupation. Do you agree that the Palestinians must have some sort of a method or recourse, and so on, by which they oppose this occupation that has gone on for so long?”

Meaning, bottom line, since there’s no movement on the two-state solution, aren’t the Arabs entitled to stab Jews?

Kirby answered that “what we want to see is both sides take the actions to calm things down so that we can have meaningful discussions and progress towards a two-state solution.”

Same reporter pressed on: “You’ve called this wave ‘terrorism.’ You now have 28 attacks over 14 days (the number is well below the real figures, which are in three digits), 7 dead, over 70 wounded. Just a couple hours ago you had [Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rabbi David N. Saperstein] come here and he said to hold Israel to different standards than … any other country isn’t just inappropriate; it’s anti-Semitism. What would you have – in terms of these checkpoints, what would you have Israel do? [But, on the other hand, on Tuesday, Secretary] Kerry said, “And there’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years,” and “Now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing.” Is the suggestion that what Israel should do [to alleviate the violence] is stop settlements? And if that’s the suggestion, are you not also suggesting that the terrorism that is happening at the current moment, as you describe it, has legitimate political motivations [and thus the statement would qualify as being anti-Semitic]?

Kirby, fully aware of the landmine on which he was about to step (he called it “a whopper of a question”), answered, “On settlements, our policy has not changed. We continue to … take the position that they’re illegitimate. … And obviously, we don’t want to see that practice continue, okay? That’s crystal clear. … [However,] the Secretary wasn’t saying, well, now the settlement activity is the cause for the effect we’re seeing. Is it a source of frustration for Palestinians? You bet it is, and the Secretary observed that. But … this isn’t about affixing … blame on either side here for the violence. What we want to see is the violence cease, and we want to see it end.”

Had Kirby ended here, the subject of this report would have been only the shift from calling the dispute “Israeli-Palestinian” to naming it “Middle East Peace.” But Kirby continued: “And so to your other question, well, what do you want to see the Israelis do? I think you mentioned checkpoints. … We’re not going to dictate immediate security requirements onto Israel. Again, the Israeli Government has a right and a responsibility to protect its citizens.”


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