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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Surprise: 'Palestinians' lied about breaking off negotiations

In an earlier post, I reported that the 'Palestinians' had canceled a 'negotiating session' with their Israeli interlocutors on Monday, to protest the deaths of three 'Palestinians' in riots in Kalandia, just outside Jerusalem on Monday morning.

It turns out that the cancellation may have been a lie invented by the 'Palestinians' to satisfy the 'Palestinian street' and that the 'negotiations' did in fact take place on Monday. This is from the US State Department press briefing on Monday. The questioner is once again Matt Lee of the Associated Press. The fun starts at 22:55 in the video of the briefing (it was too large to embed) and runs all the way to 30:47 as Marie Harf confirms that no meeting was canceled but can't quite say that the 'Palestinians' lied when they said it was canceled. Matt Lee is in top form. It's worth watching the video, but here's the transcript (Hat Tip: Sunlight).
Yes. Anything else on Syria? Okay. Next topic? Are there other topics today?
QUESTION: Yeah, I do. All right. So tell us what is going on or what happened or did not happen in Jericho today.
MS. HARF: Ah, okay.
MS. HARF: Yes. So I can assure you that no meetings have been canceled. I know there was some confusion about this.
QUESTION: Marie, let me just stop you right there.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: That is not the question. My question is: Can you tell –
MS. HARF: I was going to get there.
QUESTION: Oh, you were? Okay, good.
MS. HARF: But it’s okay.
QUESTION: Go ahead.
MS. HARF: Do you want to ask it again?
QUESTION: No, no, no, no. Finish.
MS. HARF: Okay. As we’ve said repeatedly, we’re not going to read out or announce every meeting that happens in the Middle East peace process as they’re ongoing. I can assure you, contrary to some reports, that no meetings have been canceled. We’ve been clear that the two parties are engaged in serious and sustained negotiations.
QUESTION: All right. There was a meeting scheduled to take place today between the Israelis, Palestinians, and possibly with an American – with Americans present at some or all in Jericho. Did that meeting go ahead?
MS. HARF: As I said before, we’re not going to make announcements about every single meeting, but I can assure you that there have been no cancelations of meetings.
QUESTION: Does that mean that this meeting happened?
MS. HARF: I’m going to repeat the same line back to you, Matt.
QUESTION: I don’t –
MS. HARF: As we’ve repeatedly said, we’re not going to confirm every meeting that takes place. I’ve said that from the beginning. I kno
w it’s frustrating for everyone that we’re not going to, but that’s where we’re going to be on this.
QUESTION: No, it’s not frustrating. I find it entertaining that you’re unable to give a straight answer –
MS. HARF: I just gave you a straight answer.
QUESTION: -- to whether a meeting took place. No, you didn’t.
MS. HARF: I’m not going to confirm whether or not it took place --
QUESTION: But no meeting –
MS. HARF: -- as we’ve said from the beginning.
QUESTION: -- has been canceled?
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: So that means that all scheduled meetings were going – will go ahead – have gone ahead?
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: Okay. And the meeting – there was a meeting scheduled for today in Jericho.
MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to –
QUESTION: Is that correct?
MS. HARF: -- confirm every specific meeting that we have as part of this process.
QUESTION: But you just said that – it’s either yes – it has to be one or the other –
MS. HARF: It doesn’t.
QUESTION: -- because you said no meetings are being canceled, but you can’t say that it took place today?
MS. HARF: Correct. Yes.
QUESTION: So that’s –
MS. HARF: We are not going to confirm from this podium every single meeting or whether meetings happen. When there are misconceptions out there about whether something’s taken place or whether something’s been canceled, we will endeavor to clear those up as necessary.
QUESTION: But you’re not clearing it up. You’re making it even more confusing.
MS. HARF: Well, I’m sorry you feel that way. Again, we are not going to announce or confirm every meeting. We’re just not.
QUESTION: But you’ll deny a cancelation.
MS. HARF: That any meetings were canceled. Correct.
QUESTION: Was that postponed?
QUESTION: Do you --
QUESTION: Rescheduled?
MS. HARF: No, no – not postponed or canceled.
QUESTION: Look, I can appreciate the sensitivity of this and why --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- you’re beating around the bush, but please don’t try and say that you’re making it clear when you’re making it unclear. You’re --
MS. HARF: I don’t understand what’s not clear about saying I’m not going to confirm every meeting. You can ask --
QUESTION: But you just said that no meetings have been canceled --
MS. HARF: Right.
QUESTION: -- but you can say that it took place.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: So that means – what does that mean?
MS. HARF: It means that I’m not going to confirm when meetings took place. There were rumors --
QUESTION: Whatever.
QUESTION: It means --
MS. HARF: No, no, Elise, that’s not fair.
QUESTION: It means nothing.
MS. HARF: Look, when some – when there are press reports out there that a meeting’s been canceled, I’m going to say, generally speaking, no meetings have been canceled. I’m not going to stand here --
QUESTION: So if it wasn’t canceled, then it took place?
MS. HARF: I’m not going to stand here and tell you a meeting took place and when and where and who was involved. And that’s going to be the case for the rest of this nine months, people, so get ready for it, and you can keep asking the questions and you’re going to keep getting the same response.
QUESTION: So we should get accustomed to more confusing non-denials and denials?
MS. HARF: You should get accustomed to us not announcing when meetings are taking place necessarily in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Yes.
QUESTION: But if you’re going to clear up misconceptions, then just clear it up. Don’t --
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: -- say you’re going to clear it up and then not clear it up.
MS. HARF: I’ll take your advice onboard going forward.
QUESTION: In retrospect, was it a mistake to say that there would be a second meeting in Jericho when you announced the first one?
MS. HARF: No, not at all.
QUESTION: Oh? So – but then you can’t say if it actually happened or not? I might be able to be – I would be more sympathetic to your position or your case here if you hadn’t ever announced that the meeting in Jericho was going to happen, but you did. Okay?
MS. HARF: Right. And I don’t have anything --
QUESTION: So from going --
MS. HARF: -- to announce on it.
QUESTION: From now, going forward, if you don’t want to be caught in this verbal trapeze act that you’re involved in, don’t announce that there’s going to be a meeting in the first place and then say you can’t say that it – whether it happened or not.
MS. HARF: Again, we will announce – at times announce meetings when we feel it’s important to do so. And when we don’t, we will not announce every meeting.
QUESTION: So when things are going --
MS. HARF: And I’m not looking for your sympathy on this, either, Matt.
QUESTION: So when – okay. Well, that’s good because you don’t really have it. So the answer is that when the meeting – when things are going well, you’ll talk about it. But when they’re going bad, you’ll refuse to --
MS. HARF: I wouldn’t read anything --
QUESTION: -- you’ll refuse to talk about it.
MS. HARF: No, I think that’s a – I think that’s a leap in assumption that is in no way based up by any facts that you have.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the clashes? I mean --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- clearly, given that the meeting was neither canceled or wasn’t – you’ve said it wasn’t --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- any comment on the – on what went on?
MS. HARF: Yes. Well, we’re still seeking the details of this incident. Obviously, we regret the loss of life and would urge restraint on both – or on all sides – excuse me. We believe it’s essential for the negotiations to go forward despite these kinds of incidents, as the parties have agreed to do. And again, these incidents underscore exactly why a final status agreement is even more important to address these issues at the negotiating table and why we’re working so hard to help the two parties do that.
QUESTION: Sorry. Which issue would that be in this case that would resolve these kinds of issues? That would be the issue of --
MS. HARF: The --
QUESTION: -- Palestinian refugees?
MS. HARF: Some of the violence. No, this was an example where some people were killed --
MS. HARF: -- and she was asking about that.
QUESTION: In a refugee camp.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
QUESTION: So the issue that would be – the issue that we’re talking about here, the killing of these three people in this refugee camp --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- the issue that would be resolved in the final status talks would be the issue of refugees?
MS. HARF: Well, there are a number of issues, and the Secretary made clear that all of those issues, every single one, is on the table as part of these nine-month negotiations.
QUESTION: But you think – so you think that --
MS. HARF: Violence – all of this – all of this is being discussed right now.
QUESTION: It wasn’t being discussed because you can’t confirm that a meeting has taken place, right?
MS. HARF: All of it is being discussed as part of the ongoing negotiations. I think it’s clear that the negotiations are ongoing, as we said, without confirming specific meetings. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Do you understand how ridiculous that sounds?
MS. HARF: Nope.
QUESTION: I mean, you can’t say that the negotiations are ongoing and then not be able to confirm whether the negotiations are going on.
MS. HARF: I actually just confirmed that they’re going on. I said I’m not going to give you specifics on meetings.
QUESTION: Ah. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: I just said that.
QUESTION: They’re going on – they’re going on --
QUESTION: Well, they’re going on in the ether. Is that --
QUESTION: In the ether.
MS. HARF: Just because you don’t know the specifics of every meeting doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
QUESTION: Maybe, except that --
MS. HARF: I think that’s true, actually.
QUESTION: Except that I do know the specifics and I know why you’re being so reluctant. So – but I just wish you would be clear, because clearing up – there is one side in this situation that is not telling the truth. It’s not the American --
QUESTION: This side. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, it’s not the American side and it’s not the Israeli side. So why don’t we just come out --
MS. HARF: Is there a question?
QUESTION: Yeah. Why don’t you just come out and call a spade a spade? Why not just come out and clear the air and say this is what’s going on, and that’s it?
MS. HARF: Because we’ve been clear that all of these issues – that these negotiations and all of the sticky issues around the logistics and the substance and all of that is going to be discussed privately to give them the best chance of success.
QUESTION: But you know what the --
MS. HARF: So I know it’s frustrating to you, but --
QUESTION: Okay. Okay, listen --
MS. HARF: -- this is all – wait, let me finish, Matt.
QUESTION: Listen, but no one is asking about --
MS. HARF: Can I finish, Matt, please?
QUESTION: -- the specifics about what is being talked about.
MS. HARF: You’re asking about a lot of specifics --
MS. HARF: -- about logistics and --
QUESTION: Specifics of what? This is --
MS. HARF: And honestly, logistics matter in the Middle East peace process. We’ve all followed this. It’s not just who was at the meeting and who sat at the table. Every single piece of this is sensitive and is part of very delicate negotiations that, as we’ve seen for decades, haven’t worked. So we want to keep everything as discrete and private as possible to give us the best chance of finally succeeding with this. So I’m sorry that I can’t tell you what time a meeting started and what time it ended, but there’s a good reason for it.
QUESTION: All right. Well --
MS. HARF: And it’s to give it a chance for success.
QUESTION: Sorry. No one asked what time it started and what time it ended. We just wanted to know – one side came out --
MS. HARF: Again --
QUESTION: -- and said that the meeting had been canceled. You’re saying nothing has been canceled, but you won’t say that the meeting took place.
MS. HARF: Again --
QUESTION: There’s a lot of wiggle room in that statement, and that is the problem.
MS. HARF: I don’t have anything further for you on this.
Gee, do you think the 'Palestinians' lied? It sure sounds like it, doesn't it?

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