Daily Press Briefing
December 18, 2014
INDEX FOR TODAY'S BRIEFING
1:42 p.m. EDT
QUESTION: — let’s focus on what was supposed to be the focus of the Secretary’s diplomacy this week. The Palestinians released their draft resolution – or their full resolution last night. And I was wondering, now that it is public and released, if you have an official response to it – whether you would support it or not.
MS. PSAKI: We have seen the draft. It is not something we would support, and we think others feel the same and are calling for further consultations. The Palestinians understand that. You may have also seen President Abbas speak to this earlier today, and have said they support continued consultations and are not pushing for a vote on this now.
QUESTION: Do you think this is something that can form the basis of negotiations, as President Abbas indicated, or is this something so far from what might be acceptable that entire alternatives must be come up with?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there are a range of issues that we’re all aware – people from all sides and parties – will be discussed as a part of any draft resolution. But in terms of the specifics of this in its current form, we couldn’t support it. We’re not currently engaging on the submitted text. Our focus right now is more on consultations with key stakeholders, and we look forward to continuing our conversations to find a way forward.
So as we have been – as the Secretary, I should say, has been over the course of the last several weeks – even this morning – he continued to have discussions with parties in the region and stakeholders about how to come to a place that would be the most productive path forward.
QUESTION: Can you outline what in the resolution you find particularly objectionable?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to get into too many specifics, or any, really, about the particular resolution. I will say, broadly speaking, in general our principles have been, which I’ve spoken about in this room over the course of this week, that we can’t support – we wouldn’t support, I should say, any action that would prejudge the outcome of the negotiations or would set a specific deadline for withdrawal of security forces. And so those are some of the issues that we’ve talked about publicly, and certainly the parties are well aware of our concerns about.
QUESTION: So it’s the content of this particular resolution, not the aim itself of Security Council terms of reference that you find objectionable? It’s what the specific —
MS. PSAKI: Correct. And I think that’s an important point, Brad. I think – the Secretary spoke to this a little bit yesterday, but historically we have supported UN Security Council resolutions related to Israel; it’s not that we haven’t. But obviously, the content is important. That’s why we’re working with all of the stakeholders to determine an appropriate path forward.
QUESTION: And then I just have one last one —
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: — and then I’ll yield. There was some comments by Russian officials indicating they were reviewing an American text. (Phone rings.) Can you tell us if there is an American text —
MS. PSAKI: That’s pretty loud.
QUESTION: — and if there is not can you categorically state that there is no American text?
MS. PSAKI: Well Brad, there have been a range of ideas out there and a range of ideas from many parties, and certainly we have our own ideas. But there is one proposal that’s so far been put forward at the UN. What we’re doing right now is having discussions with a range of parties.
QUESTION: So you’ve put forward some of your own ideas about what could be in a resolution?
MS. PSAKI: Well, no. What I’m referring to is I think we’ve been clear about what our principles are and the fact that we support – or we could support certain forms of a resolution. But again, those discussions are private. We’re having them not with just the Russians but with many countries in the region as well.
QUESTION: Jen —
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: — the suggestion here is that you oppose the time limit. But isn’t, in fact, when the Secretary suggested his nine-month period, that was a time limit? Why do you oppose to a two-year period?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, they’re entirely different things —
QUESTION: Okay, well enlighten us.
MS. PSAKI: — so let me spell it out a little for you, although I suspect you know why they’re different things, but I’ll still do it. The nine-month timeline, Said, was about coming to an agreement for a path forward with the negotiations. That wasn’t a timeline or a deadline for security changes. Those agreements need to be made between the parties. That’s the difference between the two.
QUESTION: Now if you are – if you say that you are in agreement with the UN resolution pertaining to Israel and pertaining to the occupation and all these things, why would you oppose a call to end the occupation? Why is that —
MS. PSAKI: I don't think that’s – that’s not actually —
QUESTION: Why is that objectionable?
MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s not exactly what I said or what I’ve ever said. But I think what we’ve been clear about, to Brad’s earlier question, is that there are – without speculating what it may be, there are many different options here and many different ideas and potential proposals out there. So we have historically supported proposals in the past, and we’re not ruling out that option. I’m just talking about this specific resolution.
QUESTION: What practical steps the United States can propose alternatively to this UN resolutions and so on that you can move on board? Because obviously things were frozen in place during the negotiations. So what practical steps that you can suggest to get things really moving forward towards something on the horizon that you can see?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, it’s not just about the United States proposing practical steps. We’ve been engaging and we’re continuing to engage with the parties about a productive path forward. We’re obviously not going to talk about those private conversations publicly, because that would defeat the purpose. But that’s been ongoing. It’s not just about what steps will we take. We’re already having these discussions with the parties.
QUESTION: If this thing – can I just follow up very quickly?
MS. PSAKI: Let’s just do one more and then we’ll move on. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Only one more, I promise.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: If this thing comes up in January when the Security Council changes – on January 1 many members will come, and I think that the – whatever Palestinian proposal is submitted at the time is likely to gain a great deal of support, including probably your allies, France and Britain and others. Are you willing to sort of oppose all European allies on this issue?
MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s highly speculative and hypothetical, Said. I think, one, as I mentioned before, the Palestinians are not pushing for a vote right now. I don't know where they’ll be in January. As you may know, there are some UN Security Council resolutions that are put forward and voted on within 24 hours and some draft resolutions that are discussed for months. We don’t know what the path forward will be in this case.
QUESTION: I just want to be clear. With – is the Secretary – he’s spoken about looking at different options and he’s open to talking about the – but would he prefer that none of this happens before the Israeli election? Does he believe that this should be done after the election?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the Secretary doesn’t think that it’s – and he spoke to this yesterday, that there should be a – any steps that interfere with. Now there are many ways, forms that could take, and I’m not going to spell that out more specifically for you. He does believe and we do believe that if you do some kind of terms of reference in a Security Council resolution, that would be not what we would consider a unilateral step in the conventional sense of the term. So that’s not, obviously, where we are at this point. But he is discussing a range of options with the parties.
More on this, or should we move on to a new topic?
QUESTION: Same topic.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Jen, you mentioned that the Secretary had additional conversations with parties in the region today. Do you know specifically who he spoke to today? And then secondly, are there – is there a consideration underway as a result of these talks of any new provisions to push the peace process forward?
MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t – on the second question, our position remains. Obviously the peace process – or I shouldn’t say the peace process; it’s more about coming to a two-state solution – is a part of every conversation.
QUESTION: Were there any new ideas floated?
MS. PSAKI: It’s not active process right now, though.
MS. PSAKI: And that hasn’t changed. He spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry this morning. I expect he will continue to have additional conversations over the next couple of days as well.