Jeff Rathke

Director, Press Office
Daily Press Briefing

Washington, DC

December 29, 2014

INDEX FOR TODAY'S BRIEFING

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TRANSCRIPT:

1:28 p.m. EDT

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QUESTION: — and talk about the Palestinians’ effort at the United Nations? Today, they are submitting an amended version of their draft proposal. First of all, have you seen the amended version? And second, what will your reaction be?

MR. RATHKE: Well, we’ve seen reports regarding Palestinian and Jordanian plans to bring their text to a vote at the Security Council. There are discussions still taking place in New York and we are – and with the Secretary, who has spoken with some of his counterparts, and we are therefore engaging with all the relevant stakeholders. As we’ve said before, this draft resolution is not something that we would support and other countries share the same concerns that we have.

QUESTION: Other countries that includes, let’s say, the Permanent Five at the UN?

MR. RATHKE: Well, I don’t want to —

QUESTION: Or at least members of the Permanent Five?

MR. RATHKE: I’ll let other countries speak for themselves, but I simply want to make the point that other countries see similar problems to those that we see.

QUESTION: Members of the Israeli cabinet yesterday said that if the vote goes through, or brought to a vote, then they are going to collapse the Palestinian Authority. Have they discussed anything like this with you?

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have any conversations to read out about – on that score. I would say that, again, we don’t think this resolution is constructive. We think it sets arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, and those are more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion.

Further, we think that the resolution fails to account for Israel’s legitimate security needs, and the satisfaction of those needs, of course, is integral to a sustainable settlement.

QUESTION: And finally on this issue, it seems that the Palestinians did not get the nine votes needed. Now, if this is the case, would it be prudent for the United States to sort of abstain if anything is brought to a vote?

MR. RATHKE: Well, I’m not going to preview anything before a vote has been scheduled. But I would go back to my – the point I made at the start, which is that we don’t believe this resolution advances the goal of a two-state solution.

Other on this topic? Go ahead, Pam, please.

QUESTION: Jeff, there are news reports that say —

MR. RATHKE: Oh.

QUESTION: Sorry. Is it on this?

QUESTION: Yes. There are news reports that say that the Secretary had a conversation with Mahmoud Abbas yesterday, and during that conversation it was, in addition to the Secretary saying that the U.S. would possibly veto such a measure, also he hinted at economic sanctions. Can you confirm that?

MR. RATHKE: Well, Secretary Kerry has been in touch both with President Abbas and with Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as with many other world leaders in the past few days, but I’m not going to comment on the content of his – of these private conversations.

Matt, did you have a follow-up on this topic?

QUESTION: Yeah, I just wondered who – you said the Secretary had been speaking with his colleagues. Who other than – since Abbas and Netanyahu are not his actual counterparts, who among his counterparts has he spoken to?

MR. RATHKE: Well, perhaps I was imprecise in my use of the word “counterparts.”

QUESTION: You didn’t say counterparts. You said colleagues. But I’m just wondering —

MR. RATHKE: Okay.

QUESTION: Has he spoken with any foreign minister over the —

MR. RATHKE: The calls that are relevant to this topic that I have to read out are with those two. Yes.

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