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State Dep’t tries to clean up Kerry’s ‘Poof’

Israel/Palestine
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In yesterday’s press briefing at the State Department, Jen Psaki sought to undo Secretary of State John Kerry’s “Poof” remark, in which Kerry laid the chief blame for the breakdown in negotiations at the feet of the Israelis, for announcing new settlements in Jerusalem. Psaki said that both sides were to blame for the breakdown. But at minute 6, Matt Lee of AP says that Kerry did blame the Israelis, and their fault was failure to release prisoners.

Matt Lee: the Secretary on the Hill yesterday managed to get the Israelis, in particular, upset about him when he described, what he called a “poof” moment when things went, for lack of a better word, to hell. Given the fact that you guys have made clear for some time now, for at least two weeks now, that both sides have taken negative steps: one, would it have been perhaps more appropriate for the Secretary not to use his “poof” moment comment; or, if it was appropriate, do you think that it was – that he put it in the context of the timeline at the wrong place?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I spoke with the Secretary about this this morning, and he was, frankly, surprised by the coverage of his comments because he doesn’t believe, as you noted and has said repeatedly, that one side deserves blame over another media note because they’ve both taken unhelpful steps – that’s something you’ve heard him say frequently. And at no point, including yesterday, has he intended to engage in a blame game.

The truth is even yesterday, if you look at the full context of his comments, he went out of his way to credit Prime Minister Netanyahu for making tough choices. And you’ll remember, as you also noted, that he began his comments by very matter-of-factly referring to the unhelpful and provocative steps the Palestinians took by going on television and, of course, announcing their intention to join UN treaties.

So what he followed yesterday or what he did yesterday was simply restate the chronology of events of last week that took place, which ended, of course, with the step by the Palestinians to announce plans to join international conventions. So that was the intention of his comments, and he certainly stands by them and was surprised that there was there a view that he was one-sided.

Matt Lee: Well, he was surprised by the fact that people took him at his word, because that’s what he said? If we look at the chronology going back this week – and I don’t want to belabor this, but on Saturday – Saturday was when the prisoners were supposed to be released. They weren’t. Saturday, Sunday – after they weren’t released, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, nothing really major happened. The Palestinians didn’t take any action. On Tuesday, the new Gilo announcement – settlement – or construction announcement was made. That is when the Secretary said the “poof” moment was. It wasn’t until the next day, Wednesday, when we were in Brussels, that President Abbas came out and said that he was going to sign onto these UN conventions. And it wasn’t until the next day after that, Thursday, that Justice Minister Livni came out and said that the prisoner release was now officially canceled. So in retrospect, wouldn’t it have been more accurate, given the fact that you blame both sides, for the Secretary to have identified the “poof” moment not as the housing announcement but rather either the Palestinian announcement or Justice Minister Livni’s announcement that the prisoner release had been canceled entirely?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would caution you against over-emphasizing the meaning of “poof,” which we’ve now talked about a lot here. But he was – his view is that there were unhelpful steps by both sides. That’s what he was conveying yesterday. Again – again, as we look forward to the coming days, it’s clearly counterproductive when either side takes steps that aren’t conducive to an environment moving forward. So we’re not going to spend our time recounting every single step as it relates to the events of last week. We’re going to see if there’s the will and the desire to move things forward.

QUESTION: Right. But that’s what he did yesterday. In recounting the chronology, he did exactly what you say you don’t want to do.

MS. PSAKI: No —

QUESTION: And he – and because he used the “poof” comment where he did, some in Israel – many if not all in Israel – took that to be an indication that you regard them as more to blame than the other side. You’re saying that that’s wrong. So if it’s – correct? You’re saying that that is wrong? He wasn’t meaning to single out Israel for more blame than anyone else?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to his own comments he’s made many times over the past week about the unhelpful steps by both sides, Matt.

Matt Lee: All right. And you say that he doesn’t want to get into the blame game. But is he – aren’t you, in fact, blaming both sides? Isn’t that the blame game?

MS. PSAKI: Well, often the blame game means blaming one side over the other, and that’s what I’m using it as a reference to.

Matt Lee: Okay.

Psaki said she doesn’t know if talks will go forward. That’s the “proposition we’re testing now,” she said. And she said it’s “unfortunate” that Prime Minister Netanyahu had suspended relations between ministers of his government and the Palestinian Authority, following the Palestinian president’s bid for Palestinian representation at 14 international bodies.

Also yesterday Kerry met with Avigdor Lieberman and said that the U.S. friendship with Israel is unbreakable.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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57 Responses

  1. amigo
    April 10, 2014, 9:57 am

    Is not the Israeli response all the proof we need that Kerry blamed them.

    So why is the State Dept now trying to replace Poof with Spoof.

    • Krauss
      April 10, 2014, 10:09 am

      Domestic politics.

      • amigo
        April 10, 2014, 10:25 am

        “Domestic politics.” Krauss.

        But it isn,t just domestic Politics, is it.

    • Woody Tanaka
      April 10, 2014, 11:42 am

      “So why is the State Dept now trying to replace Poof with Spoof.”

      Because the AIPACniks have, no doubt, activated the Fifth Column calling circle and Washington, DC is taking massive fire on behalf of this alien state.

  2. Krauss
    April 10, 2014, 10:09 am

    It’s actually quite remarkable that Kerry, the Foreign Secretary of the world’ most powerful country, feels pressured to assure the FM of a tiny country that the US is devoted to them to an almost slavish extent.

    Lieberman, in a normal world, should be hunting Kerry and not the other way around and ask what he and his country can do to help the negotiations.

    People don’t react anymore because they have become socially conditioned to this bizarre situation.

    • JeffB
      April 10, 2014, 11:02 am

      @Krauss

      Lieberman, in a normal world, should be hunting Kerry and not the other way around and ask what he and his country can do to help the negotiations.

      If this were a normal situation Kerry wouldn’t care how Israel handles its indigenous population. Kerry wouldn’t know and wouldn’t care where Netanyahu’s government decides to build housing, roads, water …. for his population. My township just finished a 15 year project of adding housing for another 20k people, which meant major shifts to school bus routes and laying out and expanding connector roads for traffic flow. Precisely 0 leaders of national or international stature were involved.

      In a normal situation, Kerry would see Israel’s construction projects as a purely internal matter. Lieberman and Kerry when they rarely met would discuss issues of interest to the USA. If you want to complain that the USA shouldn’t be involved I couldn’t agree more. The USA shouldn’t be involved. The best course of action would be for the USA to give Israel 1 year to either officially annex whatever territories in the West Bank they are taking and everything else formally repudiate claim to, including bases. Then negotiations with the Palestinian population happen in the Knesset where they belong and some minor undersecretary tracks them.

      But it is the USA that’s asking Israel to engage with the Palestinians on their terms. The USA are the ones who want these splashy meetings. Ministers like Naftali Bennett don’t want them as they have repeatedly said. This was one of the things Kerry was critical of Clinton for that she considered I/P mostly a waste of time.

      If Kerry would just follow USA law and when Israel announce construction in E1 tell the world that it isn’t his policy to comment on where in Paris France builds or where in Beijing China builds that would end the nonsense with our being involved.

      • Cliff
        April 10, 2014, 11:23 am

        Israel has no indigenous population. Israel was founded by Jewish colonists who stole the land from the indigenous Palestinian Arabs.

        The point is that there are no consequences for Israeli intransigence.

        And don’t filibuster this discussion with polls on pro-Israel sentiment.

        Americans are not pro-Israel – they are simply anti-Arab and anti-Muslim.

        And the voting population is split into the two-party-system which are both pro-Israel.

        There are 300+ million Americans and they mostly do not give a shit about this conflict.

        Be honest enough to say that a combination of apathy/disinterest and sure, religious Zionism as well as Islamophobia and Orientalism = support for Israel.

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 10, 2014, 11:40 am

        “If this were a normal situation Kerry wouldn’t care how Israel handles its indigenous population.”

        Nonsense. 1) The Palestinians in Palestine aren’t Israel’s indigenous population. 2) The US often cares (or at least claims to) when a minority is oppressed.

        “In a normal situation, Kerry would see Israel’s construction projects as a purely internal matter.”

        Nonsense. They aren’t occurring inside Israel, they are happening inside Palestine, so they are not “internal matters.”

        “The best course of action would be for the USA to give Israel 1 year to either officially annex whatever territories in the West Bank they are taking and everything else formally repudiate claim to, including bases.”

        Too bad for you international law prevents that.

        “But it is the USA that’s asking Israel to engage with the Palestinians on their terms.”

        No, it’s simply not willing to engage in the fiction that you’re spinning here that the Zionist entity is in any way a normal, natural or legitimate state. While the US pretends, because of politics and donors and cowardly politicians, it’s not, never has been and won’t be until such time as justice comes to the Palestinians.

        “If Kerry would just follow USA law and when Israel announce construction in E1 tell the world that it isn’t his policy to comment on where in Paris France builds or where in Beijing China builds that would end the nonsense with our being involved.”

        Except that Paris, France and Beijing, China are the capitals and sovereign territory of those states. Arab East Jerusalem is neither the capital (nor part of the capital) of Israel nor does Israel have sovereignty over it.

      • Hostage
        April 10, 2014, 12:18 pm

        “The best course of action would be for the USA to give Israel 1 year to either officially annex whatever territories in the West Bank they are taking and everything else formally repudiate claim to, including bases.”

        When Israel “accepted” resolution 181(II) it already repudiated claims to the remainder of Palestine forever:

        Chapter 3: Citizenship, International Conventions and Financial Obligations

        1. Citizenship Palestinian citizens residing in Palestine outside the City of Jerusalem, as well as Arabs and Jews who, not holding Palestinian citizenship, reside in Palestine outside the City of Jerusalem shall, upon the recognition of independence, become citizens of the State in which they are resident and enjoy full civil and political rights. Persons over the age of eighteen years may opt, within one year from the date of recognition of independence of the State in which they reside, for citizenship of the other State, providing that no Arab residing in the area of the proposed Arab State shall have the right to opt for citizenship in the proposed Jewish State and no Jew residing in the proposed Jewish State shall have the right to opt for citizenship in the proposed Arab State. The exercise of this right of option will be taken to include the wives and children under eighteen years of age of persons so opting.

        Arabs residing in the area of the proposed Jewish State and Jews residing in the area of the proposed Arab State who have signed a notice of intention to opt for citizenship of the other State shall be eligible to vote in the elections to the Constituent Assembly of that State, but not in the elections to the Constituent Assembly of the State in which they reside.

        http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/un/res181.htm

      • Blownaway
        April 10, 2014, 11:52 am

        Nice but for the fact that it is the US that has subsidized and protected this ” internal ” matter for Israel and that there is almost half the population of this internal matter that has no voice in this internal matter because the US has supported this…see

      • JeffB
        April 10, 2014, 12:24 pm

        @Blownaway

        The USA doesn’t protect the settlement enterprise. They just prevent the Security Council from making threats they can’t back. Once a SC power comes forward with a credible claim of being willing to war for Palestine then Article 7 becomes more meaningful. For now it would just further erode the credibility of the Security Council.

      • Shingo
        April 10, 2014, 6:07 pm

        The USA doesn’t protect the settlement enterprise. They just prevent the Security Council from making threats they can’t back.

        Wow, that has to be the most creative Hasbara I have heard in a while.

        First of all, the US does indeed protect the settlement enterprise. They allow charities to operate in the US that directly fund the settlements.

        Secondly, UN resolutions are not threats, they are condemnations. There have never been resolutions tabled tithe eaten Israel. Of course, if they we’re to impose resolutions imposing punitive measures, they could indeed hurt Israel.

        Once a SC power comes forward with a credible claim of being willing to war for Palestine then Article 7 becomes more meaningful.

        Why only war? Would UN sanctions that cripple Israel’s economy not suffice?

        For now it would just further erode the credibility of the Security Council.

        It’s heartening to know you have such concerns for the credibility of the UNSC.

      • James Canning
        April 11, 2014, 12:54 pm

        Obviously the US very foolishly aids and abets the growth of illegal colonies of Jews in the West Bank. “Protects” the illegal programme, day in and day out.

      • Hostage
        April 11, 2014, 8:12 am

        Once a SC power comes forward with a credible claim of being willing to war for Palestine then Article 7 becomes more meaningful. For now it would just further erode the credibility of the Security Council.

        That’s nonsense, the UN Security Council brought the economies of Iraq and Iran to the brink of collapse without going to war and they can easily do the same to Israel.

        Meanwhile, the press and government of Israel do not share your supercilious attitude about the threat of sanctions. They are already convening meetings of the cabinet and security agencies behind closed doors to come up with a plan to deal with the fallout from grassroots BDS. Even they admit that is has cost them dearly in recent cases involving divestment from their major banks, partnerships with the national water carrier, withdrawal of bids on major rail and port projects, and agricultural exports from the occupied territories. They are also shreying about delegitimization, but they have no one to blame for that, other than themselves.

        Secretary of State Marshall and Under-Secretary Lovett told Moshe Shertok that “We shall not allow the Jews to conduct a war that we do not want with our dollars.” The US threatened to shutdown the United Jewish Appeal and publish the incriminating evidence the US government had obtained on the organization. Shertok acknowledged that they could back-up their threats. See Shertok’s remarks from the verbatim minutes of the People’s Council.

        The fact remains that major sectors of the Israeli economy rely on foreign investments, foreign markets, and subsidies from foreign charitable organizations. That definitely includes the settlement enterprise. Israel has been extremely worried by efforts, like the request from J-Street, to get the Justice Department and law enforcement agencies in other countries, to take action against organizations and businesses that either financially support or profit from the illegal settlements in Palestine. It was only after J-Street abandoned that effort and started acting like a mini-AIPAC, that the government of Israel stopped shunning it altogether.

      • seanmcbride
        April 10, 2014, 12:01 pm

        JeffB,

        If this were a normal situation Kerry wouldn’t care how Israel handles its indigenous population. Kerry wouldn’t know and wouldn’t care where Netanyahu’s government decides to build housing, roads, water …. for his population.

        Where are you coming from on Mideast and Israeli politics? Basic datapoints?

      • amigo
        April 10, 2014, 12:01 pm

        “The best course of action would be for the USA to give Israel 1 year to either officially annex whatever territories in the West Bank they are taking and everything else formally repudiate claim to, including bases.”jb

        don,t want much of a freehand –do ya jeff.

        I got news for you.You forgot sanctions or are you asking the US to demand that no other nations carry out sanctions against Israel.Of course you won,t mind that kind of interference from Uncle Sam , will ya ,hypocrite.

        Have you read Hostages post below .The one about the UN giving approval to Palestine,s request for membership of 15 UN agencies.

        That same Palestine you claim is not a State.

        Who is your supplier.

      • Bumblebye
        April 10, 2014, 12:45 pm

        @JeffB
        “My township just finished a 15 year project…”
        Was this project across the border in Mexico (or Canada)?
        Is it for Whites, or Christians, or Jews only?
        Has your township actively dispossessed owners of their land, their livelihoods, even their lives with zero compensation?
        Did you have government assistance in order to deprive these dispossessed people of representation and rights before the law?
        Where do you get off, making such a stupid comparison?!!

      • Donald
        April 10, 2014, 1:06 pm

        This almost has to be trolling–alternatively, JeffB is buried so deep in hasbara he doesn’t even realize there’s such a thing as an Israeli occupation and has no notion that Palestinians have any claims to any land that Israelis might want.

      • talknic
        April 10, 2014, 1:10 pm

        JeffB “In a normal situation, Kerry would see Israel’s construction projects as a purely internal matter”

        Construction projects outside of Israel is not internal.

        “The USA shouldn’t be involved.”

        The USA is a major power in the UNSC. It is A) obliged as a UNSC Member to be involved and B) as the only vetoing country on resolutions against Israel, it is a must have for Israel to continue its illegal activities.

  3. amigo
    April 10, 2014, 10:12 am

    Mark Weiss is reporting this story in the Irish Times. Amazingly , there is no attempt to spin it.

    “Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered government ministries to cut off high-level contacts with the Palestinians on non-security related issues, as the crisis in Middle East peace talks worsens.

    Israel’s move was a response to the recent Palestinian decision to submit applications to join 15 international organisations and conventions, which itself came after Israel failed to carry out the fourth and final release of Palestinian prisoners agreed to when peace talks resumed last July, under American auspices.” Mark Weiss

    We will wait to see if there will be an attempt to “Un-Poof ” it.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/kerry-says-israel-to-blame-for-talks-crisis-1.1756201

  4. amigo
    April 10, 2014, 10:22 am

    More US secrets out in the open.

    Christies Geographical error makes it ti the Irish Times.Check the comments.

    “http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/controversy-over-occupied-territories-climb-down-1.1756130

    Drip, drip, drip.

  5. jenin
    April 10, 2014, 10:29 am

    when I read this sort of stuff I feel as though I’m living in an Orwell novel

  6. Hostage
    April 10, 2014, 10:48 am

    Breaking news: The USA and other contracting parties to the 15 UN Conventions have received notices from the depositary regarding the fact that there is a new contracting state party to the Vienna Conventions on the Law of Treaties, Maintenance of Diplomatic Relations, Consular Relations, & etc. effective one month from the date of requested accession. The UN has reported there will be no delays for political purposes. — UN chief: Palestinians to join international conventions by May 2 Ban begins processing request to join UN auspice, procedure to end exactly one month after submitting official request. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.585013

    These notices are intended to advise all of the parties that their treaty obligations to the new state party have been formally engaged:

    In the documents, which were distributed to all of the countries that are signatory to the particular conventions in question, the UN chief wrote that the State of Palestine would be added to the conventions on May 2 – 30 days after the official request was submitted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    Western diplomats said that a similar announcement would be released in the near future by the Swiss government, sponsor of the Fourth Geneva convention, which the Palestinians have also requested to join. It is still not clear whether the government of Holland, which sponsors The Hague convention, will follow suit in publishing a statement.

    FYI, the Palestinians deposited an accession to the 1954 Hague Convention on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict after the UNESCO vote in 2011 that has never been questioned or challenged.

    • JeffB
      April 10, 2014, 11:36 am

      @Hostage

      Well congratulations. This is a win for you. For me, this is one of the few pieces of international law on a non-technical issue that the UN hadn’t managed to badly damage.

      Vienna is now heading towards becoming a farce with non-countries signing treaties. I guess next to sign are Blefuscu and Westeros. I have no idea how Switzerland is going to play this out. They are within the next decade going to have to make some very complex and controversial ruling now. The UN’s interpretation of events which has mainly been the Swiss’ internal interpretation will now either be tied to critical treaties that Switzerland oversees or the Swiss will need to openly break with the UN’s interpretation. On the other hand Switzerland works hard to be neutral and not hostile to any countries which is a position the Swiss people like. Should be very interesting as Switzerland gets called on to do precisely the kind of things that create international friction.

      • Hostage
        April 10, 2014, 1:53 pm

        Vienna is now heading towards becoming a farce with non-countries signing treaties. I guess next to sign are Blefuscu and Westeros.

        On the contrary, the government of Israel and its supporters have created a farcical situation, where they constantly argue that Palestine has all of the duties, liabilities, and Charter obligations that are reserved only for states, while denying that it can exercise any of the corresponding rights or even become a member. That sort of absurdity is precisely the reason the international community developed the Vienna formula in the first place. For example:
        1) Israeli officials told the US government that Israel would be “happy” if Hamas took over Gaza, because the IDF could then deal with Gaza as a hostile state. link to wikileaks.ch
        2) The U.S. State Department has a web page which explains that blockades have historically resulted in belligerent recognition, because they are “a weapon of war between sovereign states.” link to future.state.gov
        3) According to the Washington Post and many other sources, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev cited the San Remo Manual and maintained that Israel was clearly within its rights to stop the aid flotilla, saying “any state has the right to blockade ANOTHER STATE in the midst of an armed conflict.” [emphasis added] link to washingtonpost.com

        The Reconvened Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions already declared the Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories illegal more than a decade ago. So, I have no idea what you are blabbering about. There is no difficult decision pending on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions, because the Security Council, General Assembly, ICJ, ICRC, and Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions all agree on that subject. If you can’t fit that fact into your legal theories, you need to discard them and adopt some that have predictable results.

        I’ve pointed out to you in the past that Israel is gaming the system. So you are definitely a slow learner. http://mondoweiss.net/2014/02/purveyors-israels-democratic.html/comment-page-1#comment-643952

        FYI, Palestine has a government that engages in foreign relations with other states and belongs to a half dozen international inter-governmental organizations, a population, and well defined frontiers. So it has all of the qualifications that a country should possess in order to be considered a person of international law in accordance with Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States.

        The ICJ and the parties to its statute already made that clear, when Palestine was invited to participate in oral arguments in the 2003 Wall case. Article 34(1) stipulates that only states may be parties in cases before the Court. Israel’s supporters argued that the Court lacked jurisdiction because the case was really a dispute between two states, and that it could not grant relief in a contentious case without Israel’s consent.
        * ICJ Statute http://www.icj-cij.org/documents/index.php?p1=4&p2=2&p3=0&.#CHAPTER_II
        * See Crawford’s oral argument at the heading “(5) This is a dispute between two States: the principle of consent” on pdf page 34 of 64 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1503.pdf

        Judge Higgins also commented about Palestine’s legal personality and its legal obligations, i.e.

        “Further, Palestine cannot be sufficiently an international entity to be invited to these proceedings, and to benefit from humanitarian law, but not sufficiently an international entity for the prohibition of armed attack on others to be applicable” (paragraph 34).

        * See Higgins opinion http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1681.pdf

    • LeaNder
      April 10, 2014, 11:43 am

      thanks Hostage, great news. ;)

      Meanwhile, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators were meeting Thursday afternoon with U.S. envoy Martin Indyk for the third time in the last five days. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu’s envoy Isaac Molho were representing Israel at the triumvirate, while the Palestinian delegation consisted of chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and the of general intelligence, Majad Faraj.

      I noticed recently that Indyk is involved again at one of the my post Trayvon Martin case more rare looks at Pat Lang’s Sic Semper Tyrannis blogs. He mentioned it in a comment, I forget the topic.

      • seanmcbride
        April 10, 2014, 12:13 pm

        LeaNder,

        I noticed recently that Indyk is involved again at one of the my post Trayvon Martin case more rare looks at Pat Lang’s Sic Semper Tyrannis blogs.

        I often find it difficult or impossible to parse your sentences and thoughts.

      • libra
        April 10, 2014, 3:47 pm

        Sean McBride: I often find it difficult or impossible to parse your sentences and thoughts.

        Sean, it helps to remember LeaNder is German and, in my view, writes very good English. However in this instance, the phrase “post Trayvon Martin case more rare” appears to be a direct translation of what in German is effectively a single adjective. It’s actually quite difficult to translate into English without it seeming in very clumsy though some punctuation helps e.g.

        I noticed recently, at one my looks – now more rare post the Trayvon Martin case – at Pat Lang’s Sic Semper Tyrannis blog, that Indyk is involved again.

        Perhaps an example of how German can be more powerful than English with its ability to compound concepts together.

      • LeaNder
        April 10, 2014, 7:11 pm

        thanks for your support libra, ;) Sean told me that before. We know each other for a decade by now. And he knows I am German. But I actually know myself I am sometimes hard to follow for much longer myself.

        Can even happen to me in German occasionally. And I actually know why and when it happens more frequently. Let me give you two examples, I notice are pretty frequent here. It happens when a lot of things run through my mind. Some associations with underlying emotional force push themselves into the text. Or alternatively if I suppress ideas since I know, I should keep them out since they don’t matter in the context. In the latter case I occasionally don’t pay attention on the what I leave in the comment box. At what point I abruptly shifted, sometimes in mid sentence, or what I left out … ;)

        What I should have written: I noticed that too. Was it mentioned here before? I didn’t notice. The Washington Post mentioned it in the speculations about the Pollard release. Who are Kerry’s advisers besides Martin Indyk? Apparently Aaron David is not among them.

        But I wasn’t quite there mentally, when I pushed the sent button …

        This is what ran through my mind: I recently noticed too that Martin Indyk is involved again. Pat Lang, whose blog I rarely visit lately, mentioned it in a comment. Did he just mention it, and I assume it must be in the Washington Post since that is his main paper, or did he in fact link to it? I think he linked to it. It was their article about the speculations around an early Pollard release. Indyk, they wrote, had suggested it as an incentive for the Israelis to keep the peace process going.

        The emotional load that interfered associatively: Associatively Indyk triggered Pat Lang, Washington Post. And Pat Lang in turn triggered the fact that by now I would like to put a little distance between him and me. We had a heavy private clash over the Trayvon Martin case. I still respect him for his knowledge on the ME, military and intelligence though. He supported George Zimmerman’s narrative without the slightest skepticism allowed. As a lifelong member of the NRA his fears that “the left” would use the case to try to restrict his rights to carry surely played a role. But it did not completely satisfy me as an explanation. He chatted easily with a guy that uttered the most racist stuff about Tayvon Martin. His own comments were only slightly less obvious. Down to, there are hardly any black people in the army anymore. That is an indirect hint in his case they aren’t worth too much. Soldiers are the better people. I doubt he is correct. At the same time he banned people that were politely skeptical about Zimmerman’s narrative. I have watched undeserved abrupt bans before, but this felt very different. Somehow no dissent allowed. I was the exception among the skeptics allowed to stay, apparently. I had private clashes with him over the matter. In one comment he had written: There will be more than enough money to get Zimmerman free. What really happened did not interest him in the least. I had to be self-defense for political reasons. Without him I wouldn’t have watched the case as closely as I did, and I don’t regret it. Quite possibly I wouldn’t even have noticed hadn’t he been so obsessed with media over the case.

      • seanmcbride
        April 10, 2014, 7:52 pm

        libra,

        I’ve done graduate studies in German literature, know that LeaNder is a native German speaker, and scanned that sentence several times looking for Germanic constructions of compound nouns, but without success. I frequently find it difficult to follow her train of thought. No big deal.

        By the way, I really appreciate the power of German to express complex abstract ideation. I am learning Spanish at the moment, and it really can’t compete with German in that regard.

    • American
      April 10, 2014, 12:33 pm

      @ Hostage

      So what in your opinion follows next?

      • Hostage
        April 11, 2014, 6:40 am

        @ Hostage . . . So what in your opinion follows next?

        I’m no prophet, but the latest round of talks began as an exercise to get some prisoners released. Israel uses Palestinian prisoners as bargaining chips and takes great pride in announcing the reprisals it intends to take against them on the flimsiest of excuses. It is violating the prohibitions contained in article 49(6) of the Geneva Conventions by transferring so many thousands of the enemy’s civilians out of the occupied territories in the first place. It has never treated members of the uniformed Palestinian militias as POWs either.

        If you are old enough to remember the public concern here in the USA regarding treatment of POWs and their release from North Vietnam, then you’ll know that Abbas has to keep any prisoner sitting in jail in Israel as one of his top priorities. Remember his constituents are numbered among the most highly incarcerated populations on the planet and all politics are local.

        Frankly, the US and Israel have made it abundantly clear that peaceful resistance and negotiations is going nowhere and will not be as effective as the methods Hamas employed to obtain the release of significantly more prisoners than Abbas and the PLO have been able to liberate. So one avenue that is available to Abbas is enforcement of the Geneva Conventions.

        Immediately after the UNESCO and UN votes the Quartet intervened to keep Abbas from pursuing legal remedies and to convince him to wait until after negotiations on Israel’s border proposals, & etc. But Abbas only agreed to the Quartet and US demands in exchange for these unfulfilled, incremental prisoner releases e.g.
        * Abbas asks Blair to intervene on prisoners
        http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Abbas-asks-Blair-to-intervene-on-prisoners

        Here’s another example from:

        RAMALLAH, April 17, 2012 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday said the Palestinian Authority will seek high contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to demand implementing the convention in the Palestinian territory, especially regarding Palestinian prisoners.

        Abbas said on the occasion of the Palestinian Prisoner Day that PA will call for implementing the Geneva Convention on Palestinian prisoners so as to be treated as war prisoners with the entailing basic human rights, in accordance to the international law and resolutions.

        He stressed that the issue of the prisoners is on the top of the Palestinian leadership’s priority, and called on Palestinians in general and Palestinian prisoners in specific to maintain unity, affirming that the only side making use of division is Israel.

        http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=19569

        Like the illegal settlements, the prisoner issue is a clear violation of Article 8 of the Rome Statute too, and it’s obviously ripe for action, since other, non-legal remedies have been exhausted.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 10, 2014, 3:08 pm

      great news hostage, thanks

    • W.Jones
      April 10, 2014, 9:20 pm
  7. pabelmont
    April 10, 2014, 10:48 am

    For me, the “poof” remark should be taken to be less about who is to blame than about the fact (yes, fact) that 23 years of “peace process” has produced no peace or anything close enough to be worth pursuing by negotiations alone.

    Israel has used the “peace process” as a screen for its settlement project which violates international conventions, law, human rights norms, and UNSC resolutions. UNSC 465 called, inter alia, for the dismantlement of the then-existing settlements:

    Para. 5. Determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

    Para. 6. Strongly deplores the continuation and persistence of Israel in pursuing those policies and practices and calls upon the Government and people of Israel to rescind those measures, to dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem;

    (bold added)

    and it would make sense for the UNSC to re-issue Res. 465 but this time to include a demand for the dismantlement of the wall — and to include “teeth” (sanctions) to back up the demand.

    Israel does not listen to mere words. It might listen to sanctions.

    And faced with the urgent need to remove from occupied territories (including occupied Jerusalem) nearly 10% of its population and to “dismantle” (destroy) the settlements, including at least one university and several large cities, it might — who knows? — see a reason to make a peace with the Palestinians which the latter would be glad to accept.

    • JeffB
      April 10, 2014, 12:50 pm

      @pabelmont

      They annexed Jerusalem since then. Countries don’t lightly give up annexed territory. So no they wouldn’t listen. Anymore than sanctions would get the USA to give Texas back to Mexico. The UN doesn’t have enough teeth to get a major territory concession from Israel.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 10, 2014, 2:52 pm

        They annexed Jerusalem since then. Countries don’t lightly give up annexed territory. So no they wouldn’t listen.

        it’s irrelevant to the point that they wouldn’t listen because they’ve annexed jerusalem since then. they wouldn’t listen or give up the territory even before they unilaterally annexed it (which is against international law). nobody expects israel to throw up their hands and walk away, we already know what they’ll say to that.

        basically your message is UN sanctions have no teeth. fine, then let’s apply sanctions and put your theory to the test. we’ll just see how long israel lasts under strong sanctions. it took 10 years of sanctions to bring iraq to its knees and they had far more sustainable resources than israel has.

        as an aside, you’re going to have to do more than make comments and have opinions based on completely fabricated allegations* (like ‘gaza is a state’) to be part of this conversation. otherwise it’s clear you’re just here to derail the thread. at a minimum try prefacing your make believe with, “in my opinion” or “hypothetically speaking”. don’t state wishful thinking as fact, at least not if you want anyone besides moderators to read your comments.

        *this pertains to the slew of unpublishable comments you’ve attempted to make on this thread.

      • American
        April 10, 2014, 3:16 pm

        ”’ as an aside, you’re going to have to do more than make comments and have opinions based on completely fabricated allegations* (like ‘gaza is a state’) to be part of this conversation. otherwise it’s clear you’re just here to derail the thread. at a minimum try prefacing your make believe with, “in my opinion” or “hypothetically speaking”. don’t state wishful thinking as fact, at least not if you want anyone besides moderators to read your comments’…annie

        If MW is going to have rules it ought to have one about citing sources or official documents to support what you are saying…..otherwise all someone reading MW sees is volumes of nonsense stated as ‘fact’ by trolls like jeffb.
        And then poor Hostage and others have to repeat themselves with the verifiable facts a thousands times to correct the hasbara.
        Really, its too much, it lowers the standards here to have this volume of trolling.

      • talknic
        April 10, 2014, 3:22 pm

        @ JeffB “They annexed Jerusalem since then”

        Illegal annexation doesn’t transfer sovereignty.

        “Countries don’t lightly give up annexed territory”

        Not Israel’s to give up. (see UNSC res 476)

        “So no they wouldn’t listen”

        Never have, that’s why there are so many UNSC resolutions reminding Israel of its legal obligations

        ” Anymore than sanctions would get the USA to give Texas back to Mexico”

        Texas was legally annexed via an agreement through a referendum of the valid citizens of Texas. It wasn’t even Mexican territory when the Texans agreed to be annexed to the USA.

        By the US adopting the legal custom of an agreement to annex territory, Texas, Hawaii, even Alaska AFTER it was bought from the USSR, the US was instrumental in that legal custom passing into Customary International Law.

        The US cannot legally recognize territories Israel has illegally acquired by war and never legally annexed.

        “The UN doesn’t have enough teeth to get a major territory concession from Israel”

        The US UNSC veto vote is the final and only protection Israel has and it is squandering it by not adhering to the law and by demanding more instead of making peace while it still holds.

        Israel wasn’t even able to afford to adhere to the law in 1948 without going bankrupt. 66 years later the bill is astronomical.

      • Sumud
        April 11, 2014, 1:15 am

        The UN doesn’t have enough teeth to get a major territory concession from Israel

        Ending occupation of occupied territory is not a concession.

        Israel has never offered any concession (giving up of something it is legally entitled to) in any negotiation.

        I don’t think Israel would be nearly as robust under international sanctions as you think.

      • JeffB
        April 11, 2014, 1:01 pm

        @Sumud

        Israel has never offered any concession (giving up of something it is legally entitled to) in any negotiation.

        Of course it has. It has offered to trade territory in pre-1967 Israel for territory in the West Bank. It has also offered money.

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 11, 2014, 1:31 pm

        “It has offered to trade territory in pre-1967 Israel for territory in the West Bank.”

        Nonsense. It’s demanded that the Palestinians give up prime real estate and agree to give the Palestinians land it stole from them in 1948.

      • Hostage
        April 11, 2014, 2:07 pm

        Of course it has. It has offered to trade territory in pre-1967 Israel for territory in the West Bank. It has also offered money.

        No they really have not. Other than Lieberman’s proposal to rob Peter in order to pay Paul, can you cite an example of an “actual”, documented offer of unoccupied territory that Israel has made in exchange for the land it has stolen for its Jewish settlements?

      • Sumud
        April 12, 2014, 10:07 am

        Of course it has. It has offered to trade territory in pre-1967 Israel for territory in the West Bank. It has also offered money.

        The scenario of land trading you describe still represents a Palestinian not an Israeli concession, since Palestinians are expected to accept land with little value in exchange for extremely valuable land located directly over the West Bank aquifer. Also, both parcels of land are outside Israel’s own declared borders, those as specified in UN181.

        Money – I suppose that counts as a concession if it were paid as reparations. Details of this money offered please, links documents etc.

      • talknic
        April 12, 2014, 11:16 am

        @ JeffB “It has offered to trade territory in pre-1967 Israel for territory in the West Bank”

        Pre-1967 Israel had never legally acquired any territory beyond its proclaimed borders effective 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME time) http://wp.me/pDB7k-Xk

        In effect, Israeli is willing to bargain Palestinian territory it acquired by war for Palestinian territory, so Israel can keep Palestinian territory.

        “It has also offered money”

        Israel doesn’t have the kind of money needed to pay reparations for 66 years of lies, illegal territorial acquisition, dispossession, illegal land seizures. Not to the Palestinians OR Israelis whose government has illegally sold them land in non-Israeli territory.

        Israel’d have to try for more than a $100,000,000 loan at today’s rates http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/FRUS/FRUS-idx?type=turn&entity=FRUS.FRUS1948v05p2.p0792&id=FRUS.FRUS1948v05p2&isize=M

  8. jimby
    April 10, 2014, 12:09 pm

    MS. PSAKI: “Well, I would caution you against over-emphasizing the meaning of “poof,” which we’ve now talked about a lot here.”

  9. David Doppler
    April 10, 2014, 1:17 pm

    Great reporting Phil, and great comments. “Poof” is such a great word for this moment in the I/P peace talks, and in the [largely] unrelated [or parallel universe] US domestic consumption and reporting of those events. I’ve likened Kerry’s actions to juggling chainsaws [peace process, Syria, Iran, and most recently Ukraine]. We’ve had fun noting the passive-aggressiveness used by the Pope and Secretary Kerry in dealing diplomatically with Netanyahu [Kerry’s extended references to Rabin in a formal meeting not too long ago, the Pope’s gift of a wooden carving invoking the epiphany on the road to Damascus of St. Paul, a “thorn in the side” of anti-Christian Jews, when Netanyahu gave him a copy of his father’s book about the Inquisition]. And now, at center stage, we have a “poof” moment, when much of the structure on stage disappears suddenly in smoke, and the multiple audiences gasp and strain to make out what new forms emerge or appear to emerge [are they real or more illusions?]. Reading Psaki as she goes thru her Kabuki dance is becoming ever more entertaining as more and more people are in on the joke.

    By the way, I haven’t seen Mondoweiss refer to John Stewart having great fun with Sheldon Adelson in light of the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon extension of Citizens United last week, at the tail end of which is this sequence:

    So let me get this straight, Justice Alito doesn’t see how money corrupts politics unless you can draw a straight line from “I am giving you this money to do this thing for me”. Well, let’s see if we can find Justice Alito a broader non-literal quid pro quo. Like a historical example of the corrupting influence of money in politics. What if we reached back in history, to like, this weekend?

    [video clip insert] JAN CRAWFORD, CBS (3/27/2014): The Republican Governors are heading west to Las Vegas. … They’re speaking at the Spring Meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, but more important, their private talks with one man — Republican super-donor Sheldon Adelson.
    [Stewart again] [omit gross joke about “super donor” referring to money, not something else . . . .] So a pack of Republican presidential hopefuls just flew all the way to Las Vegas just to kiss the scooter-riding ass of one 80-year-old billionaire. Doesn’t prove anything though, right? I mean, people on Fear Factor [omit another disgusting joke about what people will do for $50K]. It doesn’t mean the two are connected. It doesn’t mean that money changes their behavior.

    [another video clip insert] 3/31/2014:
    CHRIS MATTHEWS: Later, according to NBC News, Christie did apologize to Adelson.

    JOE SCARBOROUGH: He ended up having to apologize for referring to the West Bank as “occupied territories”.

    [Stewart again]: Still don’t think money has a general corrupting influence on politics? Cuz I can tell you this. My family is full of 80-year-old Jews who would very much like to tell politicians what words they can and cannot use to describe Israel. But as of this taping, no presidential hopefuls have flown to their house to solicit that opinion. Obviously, we tape at 6, the show’s on at 11, things could change between that time. There may be a presidential hopefuls conference at my Aunt Doris’s house right now. If so, obviously Monday’s show will be a full apology.

    Transcript at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/04/1289711/-MUST-SEE-Jon-Stewart-BLASTS-Supreme-Court-over-campaign-finance-ruling#

    With Friedman in the NYTimes Sunday Review, and Stewart on the Daily Show declaring open season on Adelson, in front of their mega-audiences, I’d say that we’re not in Kansys any more.

    To what extent, if any, have these media events been orchestrated or coordinated by the White House? I’d like to know who the master Kabuki Theater writer/director is, because Netanyahu is no match. He’s about to find out he’s been the sucker in a huge comedy routine all along.

  10. lysias
    April 10, 2014, 3:10 pm

    Also yesterday Kerry met with Avigdor Lieberman and said that the U.S. friendship with Israel is unbreakable.

    Which is as much as to say, it doesn’t matter what Israel does, the U.S. will always remain Israel’s friend. What a pathetic thing to say.

    • Inanna
      April 11, 2014, 11:52 pm

      It also says that the relationship is not unbreakable, since to continually assert that is a sign of its breakability.

      • seafoid
        April 12, 2014, 1:48 am

        Inanna

        “It also says that the relationship is not unbreakable, since to continually assert that is a sign of its breakability.”

        With all this nonsense about unbreakable bonds, Zionism drives real deep into love song territory and overshoots out the other side into Whine County. Poor Israel.

  11. James Canning
    April 10, 2014, 3:55 pm

    John Kerry of cours was quite right, that Israel is responsible for the breakdown or near-breakdown in the talks. By continuing to grow illegal colonies of Jews in the West Bank.

  12. seanmcbride
    April 10, 2014, 11:42 pm

    LeaNder,

    I see now that there was a great deal of substance behind that brief comment of yours that I was unable to parse. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. (I don’t see the REPLY button for your comment so I am posting this note here.)

  13. Walid
    April 11, 2014, 12:46 am

    Something else odd at the State Department this week. It is making a big story of the plight of the 2500 Armenians of Syria’s town of Kasab near the Turkish border that has fallen to the jihadist rebels. As to the plight of the 2.5 million other Christians of Syria and other minorities like the Turkmen that are targeted for extermination by the fundies that are armed by the US and friends, not a word from the State Dept. Some Congressmen are now actually asking for the US to step up its arming of the rebels.

    http://www.armenianweekly.com/2014/03/29/chairman-menendez-congressional-armenian-caucus-co-chairs-members-of-congress-condemn-kessab-attacks/

    • Citizen
      April 12, 2014, 7:40 am

      Obama has sent selected rebels in Syria hand-held tank destroyers.

  14. Citizen
    April 12, 2014, 8:01 am

    The BBC is spinning Kerry’s poof remark to congress, which clearly placed the blame for talk failure on Israel; the Zionists high up at BBC are directing the spin, which is that both sides are equally to blame. The following article names names (and also quotes MW): http://mycatbirdseat.com/2014/04/53293bbc-misreports-john-kerry-on-talks-failure/

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