US condemns attack in Jerusalem and voices concern about tensions surrounding Al-Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount – USDoS press briefing/Non-UN document (excerpts)

Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing

Washington, DC

November 6, 2014





2:00 p.m. EDT


QUESTION: Can we go to the Palestinian issue?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Well, could you confirm that the United States has given the Palestinian Authority one – additional $100 million? Is that true?

MS. PSAKI: I am —

QUESTION: Was there an announcement made by the consul general in Jerusalem that he added to the project?

MS. PSAKI: I would certainly take the consul general at their word. I don’t have any details on that, but I’m sure we can get that around to people.

QUESTION: On the situation in general, do you have any comments on the tensions and on the violence in Jerusalem?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as the Secretary made clear yesterday – and I’m sure you saw his remarks – we condemn the terrorist attack in Jerusalem that killed at least one person when a car was driven into pedestrians. We understand that the Israelis are still gathering information on the second attack and would refer you to them for the most updated information. But we remain extremely concerned by escalating tensions recently across Jerusalem and particularly surrounding Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. The confrontation in – at the al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday is also of particular concern, where reports of damage to the mosque are deeply disturbing.

QUESTION: Do you find – the Israelis accused the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of incitement. Do you agree with them? Do you think that – I know we talked about this a couple days ago, like for instance his letter to the person that was killed in trying to assassinate Glick. That was perceived as incitement, but also other things. Do you believe that his statements, his words, what he’s saying add to the tensions and the incitement that is going on?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think clearly there’s more that both sides can do, including President Abbas, but both sides can do to make clear that these events are unacceptable, that there’s a desire to reduce tensions. And that’s certainly what the Secretary is encouraging them to do in his conversations and our conversations with high-level officials.

QUESTION: In discussion with Foreign Minister Judeh, the Jordanian foreign minister, the Jordanians are claiming today that they have received assurances from Prime Minister Netanyahu that the status will not change in Haram al-Sharif, that Jewish worshippers will not be allowed into that area. Could you confirm that or are you aware of that?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you the Jordanians and the Israelis to confirm.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to dispute what the Jordanians are saying?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any reason to dispute, but I’d have you confirm that with the parties you’re speaking about.

QUESTION: Jen, first of all on what you said, you condemned the attack yesterday and you said an investigation was still – the Israelis were still investigating the second attack.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does that mean that you still regard that as an attack and that there’s been some reports that it was actually a traffic accident, but I wanted —

MS. PSAKI: There have been – yes, there have been some reports to that.

QUESTION: But – so did you mean to say attack or perhaps – are you convinced it was an actual attack – the second – or is it, as far as you know, an incident that may be an attack but it’s – you do not know?

MS. PSAKI: Well, fair enough. It may be more accurate to call it an incident —

QUESTION: Secondly –

MS. PSAKI: — since it’s still being looked into.

QUESTION: Secondly, you’re aware that Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to King Abdullah of Jordan today, right?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I presume that – and that’s where the comments that Said was talking about came from.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I presume that you regard that as a positive – a positive thing in terms of trying to calm – tamp down the tensions.

MS. PSAKI: If there was a reiteration of what the status quo has been at Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, sure, absolutely.

QUESTION: Right, okay. But that would seem to indicate – and you mentioned two days ago, the last briefing, that Prime Minister Netanyahu had called for calm, and you said that that showed leadership. And now that you’ve seen Prime Minister Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan have both called for calm, what has President Abbas done or what has the Fatah done to ease the tensions?

MS. PSAKI: Well —

QUESTION: Can you point to anything?

MS. PSAKI: I was referring, Matt, to specific incidents. I think there’s been obviously, as you know, several months-long tensions —

QUESTION: Right. But —

MS. PSAKI: — that have been happening in the –

QUESTION: But in response to Said’s question, you said both sides need to do more. And it looks like, from what you just said, that the Israelis are and the Jordanians are doing something. The Israelis are —

MS. PSAKI: Doesn’t mean they don’t need to do more.

QUESTION: Well, fine. But I mean, it doesn’t – are the Palestinians – is the Palestinian side doing anything to tamp down the tensions? Because the Israelis are complaining today that there’s Fatah putting up things on the internet, on Facebook, saying run over settlers, drive a hundred miles an hour into them.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen that, Matt. We certainly would strongly condemn any incitement to violence.

QUESTION: But this is Abbas’s political party, essentially. I mean, this is – I don’t understand how you can call on —

MS. PSAKI: And we don’t have any confirmation of official affiliations. I understand the connections, but we’d certainly condemn any incitement to violence. I would say of course we would like to see President Abbas do more.

QUESTION: But do you have any idea what more Prime Minister Netanyahu or the Israeli Government could do to tamp down the tensions?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think —

QUESTION: I – you say that both sides need to do more.

MS. PSAKI: — we’ve talked about investigations.


MS. PSAKI: We’ve talked about settlements. We’ve talked about a range of issues that certainly have caused tensions in the region.

QUESTION: Okay. But you’re not specifically calling on the Palestinians to stop with this – to stop with their messaging, which certainly has attracted the ire of the Israelis.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we would certainly call for that. We would strongly condemn any incitement to violent in any of those cartoons you referenced.

QUESTION: Okay. And then – all right. And then on the investigations that you just mentioned, how are those going?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t —

QUESTION: What’s your understanding of the —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update today, Matt.

QUESTION: So the Israeli investigations have not yielded —

MS. PSAKI: Concluded?

QUESTION: — not – especially as it regards the American citizens?

MS. PSAKI: No, they have not, that we have been informed of.

QUESTION: Okay. And – but you would like to see that done?


QUESTION: And you think that that’s something that could also help lower the tensions —

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think —

QUESTION: — completion of investigation?

MS. PSAKI: — that’s obviously an issue that has been, among many others, receiving attention in the region.

QUESTION: All right. Some in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government have said that President Abbas is no longer a viable negotiating partner, that he can’t possibly be a peacemaker. Do you still regard him as a credible and viable person to make a deal with whoever is – with the Israelis?

MS. PSAKI: We do. We do.

QUESTION: And you don’t see that any – the alleged incitement or the incitement that people talk about would make him ineligible somehow to —

MS. PSAKI: We don’t. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to see him to do more to speak out against it.

QUESTION: So just to be sure, you – despite what the Israelis say is this incitement that continues, and despite your – in the face of your calls, he still remains – the person that the Israelis need to talk to if they want to have a two-state solution?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s – as long been the case, it’s up to the Israelis to determine whether they’re going to take steps toward that. Same with the Palestinians. Obviously, we’re certainly not at that point at this stage in time.

QUESTION: Can you – (inaudible) follow quickly on the Palestinian effort at the United Nations.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Could you foresee a scenario, could you agree to a scenario where the Palestinians actually would water down their proposal so would – that would sort of save you the – to cast a veto or anything at the United Nations? Is there any language they could use, for instance, that is consistent with what you say about a two-state solution and ending the occupation without putting a timeline? Would that – is that conceivable?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, it’s purely a hypothetical. Obviously, we haven’t seen – we’re in discussions with the Security Council. I don’t have any other – anything other further to share, but I’d point you to the – ask the Palestinians that question in terms of the status of their proposals.

QUESTION: Okay. From your point of view, I understand. I mean, there has not been a proposal put forth as of yet. But did you say to the Palestinians, if you put forth a proposal calling for ending the occupation within a certain timetable we will cast a veto?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve been clear about what our position is in terms of what is the most productive way of achieving a two-state solution and what is not.

QUESTION: Okay. So you do warn them not to pursue this effort —

MS. PSAKI: We convey clearly —

QUESTION: — otherwise they will face a U.S. veto.

MS. PSAKI: We convey clearly – we don’t predict that in advance, Said, but we convey clearly what our position is, which they’re certainly familiar with.



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