US is ‘pushing privately’ on settlements, as reporters point out nothing has ever come of that

Israel/Palestine
on 40 Comments

At the State Department briefing yesterday, the United States once again described the post-unification Palestinian government as a “technocratic” government. I.e., it is not about to launch violent attacks on Israel. But the reporters’ questions were about the Israeli announcement of 1500 more settlements. When is the U.S. going to put any teeth in its opposition to Israeli colonization of the West Bank? (And what would it matter anyway at this point, when the West Bank is carved up like grandma’s peach pie at the picnic…)

Marie Harf expresses disappointment, and then– zippo. We’re not going to do what the European Union has done, and call for the decision to be reversed, she says. By the end of the video above, from 35:00 to 38:00 or so, she says that the U.S. is pushing Israel privately on settlements, but she grows impatient with the reporters’ impatience with American inaction.

We are deeply disappointed that – with today’s settlement announcements, as we have consistently said these actions are unhelpful and counterproductive to achieving a two-state outcome. Our position is longstanding and unchanged. As you know, we continue to view settlements as illegitimate and urge both parties to refrain from unhelpful actions that increase tension and undercut the efforts to find a path forward to a two-state solution. It is very difficult to understand how these settlements contribute to peace.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MS. HARF: Yep. Jo.

QUESTION: On the – still on this.

MS. HARF: And then I’ll – and then I’m coming back to you. Go ahead. Yep.

QUESTION: Still on the settlements. Your counterparts in the EU have actually gone a step further and called on Israel to reverse this decision. Would you support that?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to use those words. I think I’ll stick with: We’re deeply disappointed; again, difficult to understand how these contribute to peace, and would urge both sides to refrain from unhelpful actions that increase tension.

QUESTION: And Hanan Ashrawi, who’s a member of the PLO, as I’m sure you’re aware, has said that the Palestinians are actually going to seek UN intervention on this. Is that a move that you would support?

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen those reports. I don’t have anything else, I think, probably to comment on than what I just said.

QUESTION: Because saying that you’re deeply disappointed, it’s a fair enough reaction, but it’s what you say after every single announcement of settlements.

MS. HARF: We are nothing if not consistent.

QUESTION: How can you move forward beyond just words and actions and actually try and encourage the Israelis not to do this?

MS. HARF: We have the conversation privately with the Israeli Government on this issue all the time and do believe that neither side should take these kind of unhelpful steps. So if there’s more to share, I’m happy to. I just don’t have anything further on this issue.

I’m going back —

QUESTION: A question on settlements still.

MS. HARF: Yes, and then I’m going to —

QUESTION: You just said that the State Department had been consistent on the issue of settlements.

MS. HARF: Longstanding and unchanged.

QUESTION: Yeah. And – but it seems it’s not actually fruitful in any way because settlements keep on coming. Is it time to change course on this consistency and policy that seems to be unsuccessful so far?

MS. HARF: Well, we stand up very clearly and say what we believe, and we’re not going to stop saying what we believe. We say it privately to the Israelis as well. So on this issue, again, we will continue working with them. We will continue engaging on the topic and pushing it with them publicly and privately.

QUESTION: My question is: Can you —

MS. HARF: Are we changing our policy?

QUESTION: No, no, no.

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: Not changing your policy. But can you show me, like – just give me one example where these talks and this consistency actually helped in any way over the issue of the settlements?

MS. HARF: Well, broadly speaking, we know we have a lot more work to do. Obviously we know where the talks are at the moment; they’re suspended, they’re not happening. So this is part of a larger conversation, quite frankly, about how we move the peace process forward, if that’s possible now, and what each side can do to move that forward. So it’s part of a much broader conversation that we’re having with both sides.

QUESTION: But you don’t have, like, specific case where your engagement with the Israelis, where – was —

MS. HARF: I just don’t have anything further for you on this topic.

Note that the Palestinians say they may go to the United Nations. Giving Obama an opportunity to abstain on rather than veto a Security Council resolution against settlements.

Update: Since I posted (and said that J Street is silent) J Street has issued a statement that is emphatic in its understanding that Israel’s actions threaten its liberal Zionist dream. What will J Street do about these endless insults? It says the U.S. must speak out more strongly. From the statement:

J Street strongly opposes the Government of Israel’s decision to move ahead with 3,300 new housing units in the West Bank. Not just this announcement – but the ongoing program of expanding Israeli settlement beyond the Green Line – demands a stern US response that goes beyond routine statements of disapproval.

The United States has been issuing such statements for decades with no appreciable impact on the settler movement’s drive to expand its presence in the West Bank…

The time has come to recognize and deal with settlement expansion as the existential threat it is to the very core of Zionism, putting at risk Israel’s survival as the secure and democratic national home for the Jewish people.

About Philip Weiss

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

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40 Responses

  1. David Samel
    June 6, 2014, 10:11 am

    I’m sure that Israel is reeling over the use of the words “disappointed” and “unhelpful” and Netanyahu is convening an emergency meeting of the cabinet to discuss how to deal with this painful fallout. Reversal of the new housing announcement is a certainty, and an end to the whole occupation will probably soon follow. The dynamic Obama Administration is such a contrast from its predecessors when it comes to human rights and international law. Who needs BDS when our government is taking the lead in promoting and protecting Palestinian rights?

    • Citizen
      June 6, 2014, 1:27 pm

      @ David Samel
      I must be missing some information. When did Kerry, during his 9 months of peace making efforts (as if there’s nothing else Kerry needs to spend time on), ever tell Israel they need to stop the illegal settlements or be prepared to face US ending of its annual $8.5M per day aid to Israel?

      • LeaNder
        June 7, 2014, 5:27 am

        Citizen, it feels you respond to a highly cynical comment as if it was a praise of the Obama administration. At least it feels to me.

      • David Samel
        June 7, 2014, 11:49 am

        Citizen, I really tried to make all of my sentences so ridiculous that no one would miss the sarcasm. Did I fail?

      • Citizen
        June 7, 2014, 12:33 pm

        @ David Samel
        Yes, I see your sarcastic bite now. I missed it first time around. My bad. Sometimes, I am just overwhelmed by getting constant feeds re how AIPAC and the zombie neocons are still dictating US foreign policy.

  2. amigo
    June 6, 2014, 10:13 am

    What two State solution is she referring to.

    We are deeply disappointed to tell you that the 2SS is dead and Jesus is not around to bring it back to life.

    Cut the BS and start supporting BDS.

  3. HarryLaw
    June 6, 2014, 10:25 am

    J Street has nothing to say about the settlements but Netanyahu has, no one can stop Israel building homes in the “Land of Israel”. You see he thinks Israel has sovereignty over the whole of the “Land of Israel” including all of the West Bank, whereas the rest of the world think it is an occupier of territory to which they do not have a legitimate claim, the Israeli government [although not the courts] and now Australia do not regard the West Bank [Palestine] as being occupied. It is futile to complain to the UNSC when the US has that veto. The other legal avenues open to the Palestinians, the ICJ and the ICC are more appropriate.

    • Hostage
      June 7, 2014, 8:03 pm

      and now Australia do not regard the West Bank [Palestine] as being occupied. It is futile to complain to the UNSC when the US has that veto. The other legal avenues open to the Palestinians, the ICJ and the ICC are more appropriate.

      Oddly enough, Australian lawyer Prof. James Crawford represented Palestine in the Wall Case. He argued against the Court’s acceptance of the proposition advanced by the government of Australia, that the dispute was a disagreement between two states that could not be resolved without Israel’s consent. The ICJ had refused to hear the case regarding Australian exploitation of natural resources in the “Zone of Cooperation”, including East Timor (Portugal v. Australia), without obtaining the consent of the “true respondent”, Indonesia. http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?sum=430&p1=3&p2=3&case=84&p3=5

      I think the case for Jordanian/Palestinian acceptance of ICC jurisdiction over occupied East Jerusalem is a lot more clear cut in light of the ICJ legal analysis in the Wall case and the recent treaty agreement between Jordan and Palestine on the subject. See “Jordan rejects Australian gov’t decision not to recognize east Jerusalem as ‘occupied'” http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Jordan-rejects-Australian-govt-decision-not-to-recognize-East-Jerusalem-as-occupied-355597

    • Accentitude
      June 8, 2014, 3:02 am

      As far as I know, Australia doesn’t think that East Jerusalem is occupied. I don’t recall that they said this about “all of the West Bank” as you mentioned in your comment. If indeed, they took this stance on all of the West Bank from Jenin in the north to Hebron in the south, that would really be something (not that denying the Israeli occupation over East Jerusalem isn’t).

  4. hellsbells
    June 6, 2014, 11:00 am

    I wouldn’t worry about Australia’s support for Israel lasting. That’s a government that 70% of the population want removed pronto! The “Libraelz” support for Israel is Murdoch, Lowy and various funding sources linked. I’ll give that government a 20% chance of lasting till Christmas.

  5. yonah fredman
    June 6, 2014, 11:03 am

    Is this a typographical error or what? The quote here is “J street has had nothing to say about settlement expansion” whereas the link states, “J Street Calls for Stronger American Response to Israeli Settlement Expansion”. is this a mistake?

    • Philip Weiss
      June 6, 2014, 11:57 am

      Thanks Yonah, that statement wasn’t up when i posted. I’ve amended. Phil

    • James North
      June 6, 2014, 12:15 pm

      Yonah: I’m sure Phil appreciates your correction. And what do you think about the Netanyahu government’s actual policy?

      • yonah fredman
        June 6, 2014, 7:08 pm

        James: I am opposed to any expansion of the settlements. If negotiations over borders were in progress, then I would point to those negotiations and hope that if agreement could be reached, then even if other points of the negotiations remained unsettled that building in occupied territory would have a different character given an agreed upon border. (Even in that case the building would probably be illegal, but I am just saying that my position is not dependent purely upon questions of legality, but on the questions of where the negotiations stand.) But my understanding is that Netanyahu is not ready to negotiate borders, in which case any building over the green line is offensive and anti peace and pushes Israel towards perpetuating the occupation while depriving the Palestinian of their rights.

      • talknic
        June 6, 2014, 8:22 pm

        @ yonah fredman Negotiations = Israel offering absolutely NOTHING while making demands that have no legal basis what so ever, while the Palestinians have offered and ask for far LESS than their legal rights for peace

        So…what’s your honest opinion on; A) Israel adhering to the law and UN Charter; B) withdrawing to Israel’s ONLY recognized borders for once; C) taking ALL its illegal settlers back to Israel’s ONLY recognized territory; D) paying rightful compensation for 66 years of illegal facts on the ground?

  6. hellsbells
    June 6, 2014, 11:19 am

    I agree amigo, there is no 2SS left. There is apartheid and bantustans. Maybe that will be accepted as OK by the international community, after all they have accepted everything, ethnic cleansing, the theft of nuclear materials, failure to comply to any weapons protocols, bombing the hell out of Lebanon… There seems no end to what will be accepted.

    • amigo
      June 6, 2014, 12:44 pm

      “I agree amigo, there is no 2SS left.” hellsbells

      Thanks for reply.

      I cannot figure for the life in me , why they keep exhuming this long dead corpse , other than the glaringly obvious , which is to further facilitate ongoing theft of Palestinian lands.

      But what does the US intend to do , when those millions of Palestinians left in the “Greater Israel” start demanding their equal rights and citizenship.

      Will the International Community stand by as the railway wagons line up before heading to Jordan or wherever the master race decides to “transfer” them.

      I thought we all subscribed to the goal of “never again”.

      • hellsbells
        June 7, 2014, 12:33 pm

        Imagine AIPAC fighting for all the people in Palestine; what would happen to Mossad files if Palestinians were in large number in the Knesset.

        While I can definitely see some positive attributes for Palestinians having a state they control exclusively, for the rest of us the end of the Jewish state by equal political rights for all people in Palestine has massive advantages. Including for trade in the Arab block.

        The real issue with the single state and political equality is that it will open the Pandora’s Box of the whole insanity of the Zionist enterprise. Let’s face it they don’t want the truth to be exposed via their own records of nuclear theft, assassinations, political manipulation of other countries, brutal engagements in unnecessary wars etc.

        But for people with more normal views on truth and humanity a single democratic state is the only option that has real potential to lead to a better more peace focussed world.

  7. David Samel
    June 6, 2014, 11:22 am

    is this a mistake?
    Yonah, it looks like it was true when Phil posted it. He gave a link to J Street’s website which had not responded to the settlement expansion. Since then, the website does criticize it. The update is dated today June 6.

  8. Rusty Pipes
    June 6, 2014, 11:35 am

    The State Department is committed to taking no actions that would upset Democratic congresscritters’ Zionist donors only months away from the mid-term elections.

    • just
      June 6, 2014, 11:40 am

      Well, if the US selected Congress (both Dems and Repubs) would just stand up and be honest & true blue Americans and give the finger to AIPAC et al, it would be a great day for the US of A, its citizens, and the world.

      Why on earth do they take this loyalty pledge to an intransigent and rogue state is beyond reason, and obviously beyond the curiosity of the average American.

      • Kay24
        June 6, 2014, 1:16 pm

        It seems after all endless aid, sophisticated weapons (donated by the US and used against unarmed civilians), and protection, and support, at the UN, the ungrateful Israelis keep giving US the proverbial finger!
        The have shown nothing but contempt for us, and we have to take any blame for unleashing the monster.

      • Rusty Pipes
        June 6, 2014, 8:01 pm

        If End the Occupation had a quarter of the funding and half as much organization as AIPAC to be able to mobilize its supporters simply to lobby on every single little piece of Israel-related legislation that comes before congress (not to mention actually drafting the legislation, donating major cash or identifying oneself as a single-issue voter for Palestinian Human Rights), then those congresscritters who are only voting from fear of AIPAC would have some cover to vote otherwise. When Congresscritters’ offices were flooded with calls from constituents opposing military intervention in Syria and AIPAC was the only group supporting it, most members of congress (especially Democrats) resisted AIPAC’s entreaties.

  9. Kay24
    June 6, 2014, 1:00 pm

    The US has been a partner, aider and abetter, in the biggest hoax in our lifetime.
    A rogue state that has pretended it is a victim, desperate to get peace, ALL while systematically terrorizing, assassinating, intimidating, and stealing lands and other resources, from Arabs, that lived there years before they were dumped there like unwanted garbage from Europe. This is one big real estate scam, that American leaders have been complicit in. Whispering condemnation, and showing “disappointment” has done NOTHING to stop the criminals from committing these crimes, illegal settlement after illegal settlement, the apartheid monsters, blatantly thumb their noses at the rest of the world, and totally ignore the censure by the UN, because these bandits know that they will (with the secret nod and wink by the US) get away with these disgusting crimes. If the US TRULY wanted to halt these crimes, they would have by now, stopped the aid. They threatened to do it when Israel deviously sold our weapons to China, so why not now? Maybe the AIPAC occupation of congress, the media, and others, who could have made a difference, made sure no one can stop the thieving.
    As tax payers we have unwittingly been accomplices to these crimes.

    • just
      June 6, 2014, 1:17 pm

      “As tax payers we have unwittingly been accomplices to these crimes.”

      I would venture to disagree with you, Kay. That makes it sound as though they have been duped. Lots and lots of Americans really don’t give a darn. Lots don’t even vote, except for “American Idol” and other claptrap… They are fiercely apathetic when it comes to holding elected officials accountable, except when it comes to guns and sex and church. Who in the general public questions our insane DoD budget? Who questions our filthy imperialist interventions in countries not ours? Who cares about climate change? Who cares about healthcare for all? Who cares about the racism/bigotry we still have in spades? Who cares about I/P? Who cares about war, as long as we are going after the “terrorists”?

      Lots of people just haven’t given a darn– it’s why the mantra/narrative of SSDD and Israel is our best friend needs to be smashed to smithereens. Look, I heard yesterday that Eric Cantor faces a teensy bit of opposition in the Repub primary– and it’s from a tea party candidate at that! Yech!

      “RICHMOND, Va. — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor could be the next House speaker, but first he has to get past a little-known, tea party-backed challenger with a vocal following in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Virginia.

      Cantor is squaring off against Dave Brat, an economics professor who has never held elected office and has raised just a fraction of what Cantor has.

      Although he’s a political novice with little money, Brat has been a thorn in Cantor’s side, casting the congressman as a Washington insider who isn’t conservative enough. Last month, a feisty crowd of Brat supporters booed Cantor in front of his family at a local party convention.

      Listen, we are about a country of free speech, so decency is also a part of this,” Cantor told the crowd.”

      http://www.cbsnews.com/news/eric-cantor-facing-tea-party-challenge-in-virginia-primary/

      BDS is the only way forward with this nutso, uninformed electorate. If they learn where their precious $$$ is going, and why it’s completely arse- backward, perhaps they’ll change into something like good citizens.

      • Citizen
        June 6, 2014, 1:36 pm

        I agree that BDS is the only way forward. You can look at a comparison of Cantor’s and Brat’s POV on immigration reform–just google it. Cantor’s view is totally ambiguous. Brat’s is totally conservative. Doesn’t that tell you something?

      • Kay24
        June 6, 2014, 1:49 pm

        I do agree that many Americans are not interested, or do not care, about the Palestinian situation, but this may also be because the media has been shielding Israel, and not been open, or honest, about what has been happening over there. The MSM did not cover the reasons why the peace talks failed, or about Kerry’s reference to Israel becoming an apartheid nation, the fact that Boxer and other Israeli devotees are pushing for an open visa status for Israelis when our State department, and other agencies are totally against it, for good reasons. As tax payers we have a vested interest, and a right to know, all the crimes committed by the nation that receives the most aid, and how it spends our money. If they keep honestly discussing these issues, or simply reporting the truth, there would be less Americans, blindly supporting a nation that has been nothing but a burden to the US, and who gets away with brutal crimes. The nutso, uninformed electorate, is more in tune, and up to date with, what the Kadarshians are up to, what Honey booboo does, and the latest Duck Dynasty episode.
        I do agree that BDS is the only way forward. The rogue state is already feeling the effects of it, and are terrified it will get worse for them.

      • Kris
        June 7, 2014, 12:12 pm

        @Just, it does seem that “Lots and lots of Americans really don’t give a darn,” but maybe the truth is that lots and lots of Americans have realized that they are powerless and that our elections, above the lowest local level, are controlled by the people who have the money to run large campaigns. As the great Tommy Douglas (who as Premier of Saskatchewan started the Canadian medicare system, and was voted by Canadians to be the greatest Canadian ever) explained in his famous Mouseland speech, getting to chose which cat to vote for will get you nowhere if you are a mouse. Here’s his Mouseland speech; very funny, brief, and spot on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqgOvzUeiAA

        When Obama was elected, after raising so many hopes and so much enthusiasm, he immediately started betraying all of those people, many of whom were voting for the first time, who had believed his false promises.

        “Who cares about healthcare for all?” you ask; the answer is that a majority of the U.S. wanted a public option, for all, and Obama immediately took that off the table, and also cut deals with the drug companies, to make sure that we would continue to pay insanely high prices for medications. He said nothing when Senator Max Baucus, whom Obama had, with his trademark cynicism, appointed to chair the “health care” (actually, “insurance care”) reform committee, refused to let the physicians in favor of single payer health care testify in front of the committee, and instead had them removed by force. Americans have good reason for their apathy. This Leonard Cohen song, “Everybody Knows,” expresses what many people feel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lin-a2lTelg

        It is hard for people who are struggling each day to keep their jobs and hold their families together, immersed in a steady flow of propaganda from morning to night, to find the energy to fight the good fight, especially when they realize they are like Charlie Brown, and Lucy will always pull the football away just as they try to kick it.

    • Walid
      June 6, 2014, 1:50 pm

      “The US has been a partner, aider and abettor, in the biggest hoax in our lifetime.”

      Great summary, Kay.

      • Kay24
        June 6, 2014, 1:53 pm

        Thank you. :))

  10. ThorsteinVeblen2012
    June 6, 2014, 1:18 pm

    Seems there already is a two state solution,

    Israel and

    Israel in the “Occupied Territories”

  11. HarryLaw
    June 6, 2014, 1:30 pm

    If anyone thinks the Israelis have something other than bantustans in mind when talking about a two state solution, they are fooling themselves, an Israeli government official made it plain some time ago when he said,what we will leave them,they can call what they want, “fried chicken”. Of course even the fried chicken will not have sovereignty attached, how could it since the fried chicken is a part of the sovereign “Land of Israel”. Abbas and co need to wise up, when the Israelis say these things, especially this government, they mean it.

    • Citizen
      June 6, 2014, 1:40 pm

      No way Israel will allow any Palestinian state with a military. Uniformed state soldiers are nearly immune by universal convention from war crimes; IDF is now, and Israel doesn’t want a Palestinian military counterpart with the same immunity.

  12. just
    June 6, 2014, 1:42 pm

    OT– unfortunately, this made me LOL.

    “HEBRON (Ma’an) — An Israeli soldier was knocked over by a rolling tire during clashes in the village of Beit Ummar on Friday.

    In a video published on the Facebook page of popular committee spokesman Muhammad Ayad Awad, an Israeli soldier is seen trying to stop a rolling tire by kicking it, which instead knocks him to the ground.

    Palestinians watching the incident cheered as he fell over, with another soldier trying to stop the tire by throwing a rock at it, to no avail.

    The soldier immediately gets up and tries to shrug off his embarrassment, aiming his gun at Palestinians filming the incident.”

    http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=702747

    What I did not laugh at was the fact that Palestinians were wounded with rubber bullets and suffered from tear gas inhalation. The video is worth a view.

  13. amigo
    June 6, 2014, 1:50 pm

    “Palestinians watching the incident cheered as he fell over, with another soldier trying to stop the tire by throwing a rock at it, to no avail.” just

    I thought throwing rocks is punishable by death.

  14. Shingo
    June 6, 2014, 7:06 pm

    Every time I see one of these press briefings, I want to puke.

    Did anyone notice her comments with respect to the question of the Ukrainian military using air power against civilians? She argues that there is no moral equivalence between the separatists (being supported by a foreign government) and the right of the government of Ukraine to defend itself.

    I wish one of the reporters had the cojones to question how they justify their support for the jihadists in Syria.

  15. lataan
    June 6, 2014, 8:47 pm

    Of course, the longer this to-ing and fro-ing of the US saying ‘we’d prefer you didn’t build in the West Bank’ and the Israelis saying ‘well, we don’t care, we’re going to build anyway’, which has been going on for years without the US getting even the tiniest bit forceful about it, the more it becomes obvious that the US are actually condoning the building. It’s equally clear that the only reason the US isn’t open about is because world public opinion is actually against what the Israelis are doing in the West Bank.

    It’s interesting that recently the Australian government, a close American ally, has changed it’s stance about how to refer to the West Bank saying it is no longer ‘helpful to say that the West Bank is occupied territory’, something I don’t believe it would have done without referral to the US on the matter.

  16. Citizen
    June 7, 2014, 3:19 am

    So now Marie Harf? I guess there’s an endless supply of WH press folks. I bet she does not know any I-P history, nor even what the Israeli settlements actually are and how long they’ve been officially declared “an obstacle” to peace.

    Why didn’t one of the reporters ask her a question as to the decades lack of use of the leverage of aid to Israel, or of the US UN SC abstention “vote”?

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