Durable ceasefire needed to break cycle of destruction and reconstruction in Gaza – USDoS press briefing/Non-UN document (excerpts)

Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing

Washington, DC

October 14, 2014


2:17 p.m. EDT



QUESTION: I wanted to ask you on the money that the United States is giving in aid to the Palestinians, now part of it or half of it will go through USAID. Will others go in terms of equipment, like hospital equipment or perhaps something to aid in health care directly? And how – what is the process in which something like this can go through?

MS. PSAKI: Are you referring —

QUESTION: Or has to go through.

MS. PSAKI: — to the 220 —

QUESTION: I’m talking about the —

MS. PSAKI: — 212 million?

QUESTION: — the U.S. Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. So this money is going to relief for reconstruction —

QUESTION: Sorry, because I think there was 400 and something, 12, 10 million dollars.

MS. PSAKI: I think there was 212 this weekend.

QUESTION: 212 that goes through USAID. Yes.

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check.


MS. PSAKI: Let me – so spell out for me a little bit more your specific question.

QUESTION: I’m trying to get – to see how will you give that. In direct funds or you give it in equipment? Do you give in aid? How do you do it?

MS. PSAKI: I can check for you, see if we can get a more technical breakdown of how it’s transferred. Sometimes it goes through organizations on the ground. We can get that for you, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. As part of the discussion, I mean, many people made the statement that we have to ensure that this does not get destroyed over and over again every time that there is a vicious cycle of rebuilding and destruction and so on. Is there anything behind the scene that may have taken place that you can share with us, or anything that is a common ground that may have been arrived at?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there’s a recognition by many of the donor countries and the international community that there needs to be a durable ceasefire, and that is certainly the focus of the efforts going from here. And unless we have that, it’s hard to get out of this cycle of destruction and reconstruction.

QUESTION: Is this ceasefire in terms of like an armistice, or is it part of a larger, let’s say, peace settlement? I mean, is this gaining stock again, especially with efforts like the British parliament, which has voted symbolically but overwhelmingly for the creation of a Palestinian state and so on?

MS. PSAKI: Said, what do you mean by that?

QUESTION: I’m saying – I’m saying is this part of a perhaps a hope to reignite the peace process or some sort of talks and so on where there’s so much – let’s say in Sweden and England and so on, it’s back on the front burner, so to speak, the effort to restart negotiation or to reach a peace settlement?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think what we’re talking about is what we’ve been talking about for some months now, which is a discussion to address the core issues that can create a long-term, lasting ceasefire between the parties and provide the kind of security that everybody is looking for. The process of a peace process is a much larger question, and certainly, we haven’t seen a change in the parties’ willingness to engage in that.

QUESTION: Now – yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: I have one on this.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Sorry, because I wasn’t paying enough —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — close enough attention over the weekend. But this 212 that the Secretary pledged, does that need congressional approval still?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe so, Matt. It’s a reconfiguration of some money that’s now going towards specifically the reconstruction effort.

QUESTION: Does that mean – does that – to the best of your knowledge, or can you check —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — to see if there are still any congressional holds on assistance to the – apart from this, but because of the UN – moves at the UN on —

MS. PSAKI: Sure, we will check for you. Sure.



QUESTION: And just more broadly on this, do you intend to release this money – if it does not need congressional approval, do you intend to release it regardless of whether or not you’re convinced that the ceasefire is durable? And the reason I ask is because if it’s not, is there not a concern – I mean, if you’re going to do that, if you’re going to give them the money without a guarantee of – that hostilities aren’t going to start again, I’m wondering why you just don’t throw it on a bonfire or something.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, one, we want to see Gaza reconstructed, and we believe that the people of Gaza have a vast array of needs, including water, including food, including health needs. And so – let me finish, and then we’ll get – and then you can, of course, follow up, which is fine.

QUESTION: Well, there’s no doubt – I have no doubt that there are needs in Gaza.

MS. PSAKI: But I think what we’ll see from here is clearly there’s a desire in the international community to see a serious approach to a lasting ceasefire. And obviously, the money we’re giving and that others have pledged is not going to fully reconstruct Gaza, so there’ll need to be an incentive for the international community to keep pledging.

QUESTION: Okay. I understand that. I just – this money is going to go to Gaza to help reconstruct Gaza regardless of whether there is a more formal or your assurance that the ceasefire will be durable and that this isn’t just throwing money into something that is going to get blown up two months from now?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, because we believe the —

QUESTION: So to – you’re going to go —

MS. PSAKI: — people of Gaza have needs that must be met.

QUESTION: And is it your understanding that the other money that was pledged, like from Qatar —

MS. PSAKI: From other countries?

QUESTION: — is the same, that it’s going to – or you don’t know?

MS. PSAKI: I – you’d have to check with those countries.

James. Did you —

QUESTION: Different subject.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: I just had one more on this.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, one more and we’ll go to you.

QUESTION: Beginning tomorrow and the day after and so on in the West Bank, there is – [cellphone ringing] —

MS. PSAKI: Sounds like a Superman interlude or something. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: — the olive harvest season begins, and the settlers have a habit of attacking the harvester, of attacking the olive trees, burning them, and so on. Can you call on – I mean, I asked this to Marie last week. Would you call on, let’s say, the Israelis, or is the U.S. Government willing to call on the Israelis to hold back the settlers and allow the Palestinians to collect and harvest their olives?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, we’ve seen reports that the olive harvest in the West Bank has again been disrupted by vandalism. If true, these actions are very concerning, and we condemn acts of vandalism. The olive harvest, as you noted, Said, is important to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian economy, and we urge all parties to make sure it is a successful harvest. We look to local authorities to make sure that the perpetrators of attacks and vandalism are held to account and that they take steps to prevent future attacks from occurring.


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