US Secretary of State Kerry’s Speech on Middle East Peace; UN Security Council Vote on Israeli Settlements in the OPT – US State Dept. Press Briefing (excerpts)

Daily Press Briefing – January 3, 2017

John Kirby

Daily Press Briefing

Washington, DC

January 3, 2017


2:08 p.m. EST


QUESTION: Since we haven’t had a chance to discuss the Secretary’s speech last week, for which you’ve gotten a lot of flak. But I want to ask you, absent any mechanism to —

MR KIRBY: I would also say, Said, there’s been an awful lot of international support for the Secretary’s comments, including from Arab countries.

QUESTION: That’s true. That’s true. A lot of international support.

MR KIRBY: So certainly, in your statement, I know there’s been some criticism. There’s been an awful lot of international support.

QUESTION: I understand. And I think there’s been overwhelmingly international support, but we’re talking about this town. This town has been very scarce in giving you the kind of support that you —

MR KIRBY: Well, again, I don’t know that I’d agree with that, but go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. Fine. Of course, the speech came in the aftermath of Resolution 2334, which said that the settlements were illegal and so on. But I reviewed all the settlements that preceded it, which is 446, 452, 465, 478, and they are all – they all had much stronger language, but the reasons the settlements went unabated and with such vigor is the fact that there was no mechanism. So would you recommend – either would you take some steps now in the remaining time that this Administration has, let’s say between now and the 20th, to perhaps introduce a mechanism to make these – to make good on these UN resolutions? Or would you recommend to the coming administration – suggest a roadmap on how you can come up with the kind of mechanism to give teeth to these resolutions?

MR KIRBY: I don’t have any future actions to read out or to discuss on this issue. The Secretary’s speech, which came on the heels of the resolution, was very clear about the concerns that we have about the viability of a two-state solution. And he laid out principles in there in that speech about how – a framework, if you will – about how we can better achieve a two-state solution. But specifically beyond that, I don’t have anything to discuss with you.

QUESTION: Well, you mentioned that the point that he made – and he made six clear points and so on, and in fact they probably find their root in the six points that were made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton back in 2009. The point is, absent any mechanism or absent the will and the desire to sort of say if you don’t do this, we will do this, as introducing sanctions, whether it’s against Russia or Iran or Iraq and so on – absent that kind of mechanism, what good – the – first, the pronouncements of these principles are or even issuing resolutions at the United Nations is?

MR KIRBY: Well, Said, I think the resolution speaks for itself and I think the Secretary’s comments also speak for themselves, I mean, in terms of our continued deep concern about the viability of a two-state solution. I don’t – I understand your question. I don’t have any additional actions to speak to today. I think we’re all aware about the calendar and all aware that we’re not going to see a two-state solution achieved in the next three weeks. I think everybody recognizes that. And the next administration will have to make decisions and move forward in the way they deem fit.

But the President and the Secretary believed it was important to make clear our concern because we want to see peace there. We – it was important for us to lay out – for the Secretary – excuse me – to lay out what he believed were the proper principles for trying to get there. So I think – I know this isn’t a perfect answer to your question, but I think that’s the best way to leave it.

QUESTION: One last question on this, if I may. Now, we know that the Secretary has always been quite vigorous in pursuing his own initiatives and so on. Are we likely to see anything on his part —

MR KIRBY: The Secretary pursues the President’s initiatives in foreign policy.

QUESTION: Absolutely. I’m saying but also the Secretary has in implementing U.S. diplomacy and U.S. vision. So are we likely to see added impetus, let’s say, over the next couple of weeks to see the Secretary perhaps go to this peace conference in France, if it takes place, and so on, or would you have new ideas and so on to discuss at the – maybe at the UN or other forums?

MR KIRBY: Well, without getting ahead of the Secretary’s schedule or his specific intentions on this or any other issue, I said and I’ve said many times in the last several weeks that until he is no longer Secretary of State, this is an issue that’s going to be important to him and that he is not going to stop focusing on. Last week, you saw that, I think, very clearly and in a very eloquent speech about our concerns over the situation. So I’m not going to speculate one way or another about how he’s going to spend each of the days that he has left in office on this or any other issue, but I can tell you, because I’m confident what I said weeks ago, that until he is no longer in this seat, this will be something that he continues to work.



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