Daily Press Briefing
February 25, 2014
1:16 p.m. EST
QUESTION: Apparently, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will be here sometime next week. Are they likely to receive a copy of the framework agreement during that time?
MS. PSAKI: Is this when you’re going to ask me about our rollout plan, too? (Laughter.) Again, Said, as we’ve talked about a bit, as you know, the Secretary was just in Paris last week and he was meeting with President Abbas and Saeb Erekat there. They had productive discussions for a couple of days over a range of hours while we were in Paris. The White House has announced that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be meeting at the White House. But I don’t have anything to lay out for you in terms of a timeline. They’re discussing the core issues. There’s decades of history on these issues. There isn’t – so I don’t have any timeline to lay out for you in terms of when these issues – there’ll be a final framework.
QUESTION: Okay. But you can confirm that Mahmoud Abbas is coming to town next week, correct?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details. I would point you to his office in terms of his travel plans.
QUESTION: But wouldn’t it be likely that if they are both in town, that they’ll both be presented with at least a layout of the framework agreement?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, these discussions are at the stage where we’re working to bridge the gaps between the parties. And Ambassador Indyk and other senior officials have been on the ground for extensive periods of time. As you know, the Secretary has had a number of calls and meetings with President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu in recent weeks. But I have no prediction of the timing of when the parties will agree to a final framework.
QUESTION: Are you disappointed in this continuous expression of disappointment and frustrations by the Palestinians, especially in the aftermath of the Paris meeting, that nothing really has – no gains have been made, that no face-to-face talks have taken place? How do you assess that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I know there have been a range of comments out there, but Said, we knew this would be challenging. We knew it would be hard. This is a key point in the process because we are discussing the core issues. We’re discussing the issues where difficult choices need to be made, where we’re trying to come to a framework on a path forward for negotiations. That’s something that hasn’t happened before. So certainly, it’s going to be challenging. That’s no surprise. And I don’t think the Secretary is surprised by it at all.
QUESTION: So you don’t think that the time has come for the Administration to take perhaps some bold or dramatic action to say, "This is it, take it or leave it," to both sides?
MS. PSAKI: We’re continuing to have constructive conversations with both sides. We know the issues are difficult, the decisions are tough, but we’re working through it day by day.
QUESTION: One more on —
MS. PSAKI: Oh, one – Middle East peace?
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Both of us, I guess.
MS. PSAKI: And then we’ll go to you.
QUESTION: Go ahead.
MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Just very quickly?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: So it is being reported in Ramallah that President Abbas will be meeting at the White House – I thought the timeframe was next week. Do you – can you not verify?
MS. PSAKI: I have nothing to announce or confirm for you in terms of a meeting. I would point you to the White House on what their plans may or may not be.
QUESTION: After Paris meetings – meeting, several Palestinian officials have said that they refused the ideas that Secretary Kerry offered at that meeting. Do you have any reaction?
MS. PSAKI: Well, if everybody agreed on something, we would be announcing a framework. But we’re not at that point, and we certainly expected that as we have these discussions about the core issues, as we talk about these issues that have decades if not more of history, that there would be ups and downs and challenging periods of the process. But the fact is both sides remain engaged, remain at the table, remain interested in talking about these core issues, and we certainly feel that that is a positive sign.
QUESTION: You’re getting closer to the deadline.
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, that is often what happens when you have a timeline. And the timeline is about what both sides will commit to in terms of staying at the table. But we are sitting down, talking about the core issues. We’ve always said we’re not going to outline day by day all the specifics. And naturally, every report can’t be correct because they’re conflicting with each other, so that tells you something about many of the reports out there. But what I can convey is that we’re continuing to work to narrow the gaps on these tough issues and we stay at it every day.
QUESTION: Let me just quickly follow up on that question. Do you expect the talks to go beyond April 30th?
MS. PSAKI: I have no expectation of that at this moment, but obviously, we’re working day by day. But nothing has changed about our timeline. The next step is a framework for negotiations moving forward.
QUESTION: I guess my question is that the nine-month period is not really cast in concrete; it can go beyond the nine months, correct?
MS. PSAKI: If both sides agree that that is beneficial, certainly, but again, we’re working towards a framework for negotiations moving forward that will address the core issues, and that’s really what is the focus of our efforts at this point.
Sorry, go ahead.
MS. PSAKI: You’ve been very patient. Yes, of course.