The other day we picked up a State Department press conference in which reporters were bluntly questioning ass’t secretary PJ Crowley about the United States covering for Israeli intransigence and colonization. Well those reporters continued to ask questions on Thursday, the words “double standard” were hurled, when the Obama administration failed to say a word of condemnation of further East Jerusalem settlement. From the State Department:
QUESTION: So before we get into the – all those WikiLeaks questions, which you were having before – I’m curious to know as to why, given your concern about actions or statements that can cause problems or incite violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and your unprompted condemnation of a Palestinian claim to the Western wall the other day – that you didn’t open up with a condemnation or at least an expression of concern about the Israeli Government’s announcement today that, in fact, 625 new houses for Jewish people will be built in East Jerusalem, and also the comments made by Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman, who said that much of the – that a lot of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiment is being sparked by Arab Israelis themselves, including former members of the Knesset —
MR. CROWLEY: Well —
QUESTION: Can you explain why – why no —
MR. CROWLEY: I will not comment —
QUESTION: — expression of that?
MR. CROWLEY: — on Foreign Minister Lieberman’s comments. I have not seen them. We have had multiple conversations with the Israeli Government. We have expressed our concerns about such announcements. We’ve done this repeatedly over time. We’ve done so again. We continue our very earnest, ongoing efforts to work with the parties and see if we can’t create conditions for a return to negotiations, and certainly, as we’ve made clear over time, these kinds of announcements undermine the trust that is important to get the parties back into negotiations and to make progress.
QUESTION: Okay. And then just can you find out – or can you ask if there might be something forthcoming on Foreign Minister Lieberman’s statement, given that he is actually the foreign minister and the senior Palestinian official that you condemned the other day was the deputy information minister. There seems to be a bit of a –
QUESTION: Double standard?
QUESTION: There’s a bit of a difference here just in terms of seniority, going from the deputy —
MR. CROWLEY: All right. Let me try – I have not seen the foreign minister’s – I understand what you’re asking.
QUESTION: Could NEA maybe pose the question? I mean, maybe you don’t have a problem with his statement.
MR. CROWLEY: I will take the question. I mean, just to put this in context, we had conversations with the Palestinian Authority about the other set of remarks. We gave the Palestinian Authority several days to make their own statements rebuking those remarks. When that was not forthcoming, we felt it was important to put our comments on the record. We will – I’ll check and see if there’s anything we want to say at this point on Foreign Minister Lieberman.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: More on Israel —
QUESTION: Well, wait. Just on the terms of the Palestinians, I understand that the consul general in Jerusalem met with Abbas today. Do you have anything on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Daniel Rubinstein did meet with President Abbas. He meets with him on a regular basis. And I think it was just to keep him apprised on the – on our ongoing discussions with the Israelis.
QUESTION: Is there any progress in those discussions?
MR. CROWLEY: Our efforts are ongoing.
QUESTION: Just following up on that, the Palestinian official only told one of us that the U.S. Administration has informed them that the Israeli Government did not agree to a new settlement freeze. Did you see that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’re not going – as we have said many, many times, we’re not going to give you a play by play. We have quiet conversations with both sides on the substance of the peace process. Those conversations are ongoing. And beyond that, we’re not going to get into details of what precisely was discussed.