Andrea Mitchell suggests State Dep’t staged ‘fake news’ in Jerusalem with Kushner, Netanyahu and no press

US Politics
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Hours after an American delegation tasked with solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict headed by Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday, back in Washington NBC’s Andrea Mitchell revealed the U.S. Embassy had blocked press access to the traveling officials.

Speaking during a briefing for the State Department yesterday, Mitchell questioned spokesperson Heather Nauert as to why journalists were not invited to cover Kushner’s meeting with Netanyahu.

Andrea Mitchell charges State Department with producing “fake news” at August 24 press briefing.

“What is the policy now? To only have so-called ‘fake news’ by the government cameras cover that rather than journalists?” Mitchell said, using the phrase popularized by Trump to accuse members of the press of falsifying stories.

Instead of journalists giving questions to Kushner, Mitchell noted that she had heard government employees were tasked with “shooting statements that made it look like they were press statements.”

Section on Kushner meeting in Jerusalem begins at marker 07:24.

Mitchell also asked: “In the meetings with Netanyahu, was it the decision of the embassy to defer to Israel’s decision to have only government cameras there? An embassy camera shot their statements as well as state – Israeli – as far as I know, there were no reporters there.”

Nauert responded she was “not aware of this report,” and offered, “I can certainly look into that for you.” 

The state-produced recording of Kushner and Netanyahu was released by the Israeli government yesterday morning. It was then posted to social media by President Trump. In the video, Kushner gave a generic remark on Trump’s commitment “to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area.”

This is Kushner’s third trip to the region, yet his only legitimate moment with the media came in Ramallah yesterday evening when the senior advisor met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. A press pool was allowed entry to photograph and record, including a journalist with APA Images, a Palestinian wire agency that provides Mondoweiss with content.

In what was Kushner’s second statement on Thursday, he remarked the purpose of his trip was to enrich “peaceful relations” in the region:

“[Trump] dispatched us from Washington to talk today about a topic that is very important to him, which is peaceful relations between the countries in the whole region, and he’s very optimistic and hopeful for a better future for all Palestinian people and all Israeli people. Hopefully, they will be able to work together and live together for many years and have much better lives. And so President Trump is very hopeful and very appreciative of all of the efforts that you have made to date and appreciative of the discussions and the relationship.”

This was not the first time media coverage was denied during a Kushner visit to Israel. Back in June a photographer working for the Associated Press was prohibited from taking pictures of Kushner, and another journalist reportedly said he was told to delete images from his camera that he shot of Kushner. At that time, it was unknown if the media ban was issued by Israel or the U.S.

Preventing media from photographing and questioning high-ranking American officials on trips to broker peace in the Middle East is highly unusual. A search of emails I received addressed to media from Israel’s Government Press Office, which is tasked with coordinating press entry, shows multiple invitations were sent to journalists to cover former Secretary of State John Kerry during his trips to kick-start peace talks under President Obama.

Earlier this year in May during Trump’s visit to Israel, members of the press were also invited.

In February when Trump spoke alongside Netanyahu in Washington DC, he wavered on his support for a two-state solution and gave an impromptu request to Netanyahu to slow settlement construction in the West Bank. Since that time Trump has not clarified if he has abandoned American support for the establishment of a Palestinian state through negotiations with Israel—which has guided State Department policy for the last 25 years.

It is unlikely Trump will make further comments on the progress of what he called an “ultimate deal,” for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians during that February briefing. He delegated solving the conflict to Kushner. As a result of the handover, journalists are looking past the president and to his son-in-law for signals if an impasse has broken that began when Kerry-back negotiations failed in 2014.

Therefore Kushner’s brief encounters with media are regarded as valuable moments where daylight can shine on a rather closed process of high-stakes deal making.

Before Kushner traveled to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, the State Department refused to confirm if his delegation would pursue a two-state solution with Palestinians, citing such a reveal would be “bias” towards one of the parties.

During his trip, Palestinians in Ramallah protested Kushner as a “bias” negotiator and chanted slogans denouncing Trump.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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12 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    August 25, 2017, 6:21 pm

    the video of the protest at the end where they burned the israeli flag, transparently reflects what palestinians think the prospects are of anything coming from these so called negotiations.

  2. Paranam Kid
    August 26, 2017, 2:08 am

    It is pretty obvious why no press is allowed in: it is too embarrassing to expose directly that Kushner is doing nothing, cannot achieve anything, and that the whole “peace process” is no longer a process because it does not exist anymore, it has actually been dead since 1948.

    • Citizen
      August 26, 2017, 4:10 am

      Yes

    • Marnie
      August 26, 2017, 5:56 am

      Yep. And Andrea Mitchell of all people pointed this out.

      • Emory Riddle
        August 26, 2017, 9:04 am

        That is quite amazing. Ms. Mitchell generally operates as an agent for the Israel Lobby.

      • just
        August 28, 2017, 10:36 am

        This finally might be examined more closely because it might be discovered that Trump’s US/Russia/and Israel might just try to trash everybody else while trying to foment/continue a few more wars or only maintain the ugly/unstainable status quo, Who are, what is, more dominant or complicit?

        Felix Setar[3][4]
        Felix Slater[5]
        Felix Sader[5]
        Haim F Sater[5]
        Hai Ying Sater[5])

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Sater

        Who needs so many aliases?

        “Early life and family[edit]

        Sater was born in Moscow into a Russian Jewish family, the son of Mikhail Sheferovsky and Rachel Sheferovskaya. He has a sister, Regina. The family immigrated to Israel when he was 8 years old to avoid religious persecution in the Soviet Union, and eventually came to the United States, living in Baltimore, Maryland before settling in Brighton Beach, New York in 1974.[4] Felix and his sister adopted the surname Sater. Mikhail Sheferovsky (also known as Michael Sheferofsky) states that the family name used to be Saterov at some point (Сатаров).[9] According to the FBI, Mikhail Sheferovsky was an underboss for Russian Mafia “boss of bosses” Semion Mogilevich and convicted of extorting local restaurants, grocery stores, and a medical clinic.[10]”

        much more @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Sater

        I have my own thoughts about this… yours?

  3. Kay24
    August 26, 2017, 8:38 am

    Kushner was heard saying it is not going to be easy. This is yet another fake headline by the Trump administration, that goes nowhere. What makes Kushner think he can achieve something that others, including diplomats and leaders, with years of experience, can never do? This is an administration that makes grand announcements, and after that it is either failure or silence.
    Kushner is a biased “peace maker”, whose family have financially contributed to the world condemned illegal settlements, and he is also supposed to be a good buddy to the other crook Netanyahu. The Palestinians are wise enough to know this is another US attempt to keep the support of the occupier going. They will be offered nothing, and then blamed for refusing yet another offer for peace. A familiar pattern.

    • Citizen
      August 28, 2017, 2:23 pm

      Yes. Bibi was a Kushner family buddy; he use to sleep in Jared’s boyhood bed when a guest back in the day. The whole thing is a giant, horrible joke, which wouldn’t matter except US taxpayers and soldiers will continue to pay for it. Jared is like a Goebbels invention.

  4. CigarGod
    August 26, 2017, 9:29 am

    “…told to delete images…”?
    Hopefully the AP photographer just said: “No problem dude”…then after event went back to his hotel room and recovered the images on the chip using any one of over a hundred software programs…some free.

  5. LostinAlaska
    August 27, 2017, 12:41 am

    Wow, yet another run of peace talks! This time there will surely be good results.

    This is all eyewash, hogwash and mouthwash. What Palestinians need is a George Washington who will energize them, motivate them, arm them, train them and then lead them through a war of independence. It’s the only way a sovereign Palestine can emerge.

  6. Elizabeth Block
    August 27, 2017, 10:44 am

    If there were any chance that Jared Kushner would succeed, he could only do so in private, out of sight and sound of the media. But he won’t, because the people – including his father-in-law and himself and, of course, Netanyahu – who have the power to change things don’t want to.

  7. Ossinev
    August 27, 2017, 12:06 pm

    The Heather Nauert responses were a master class in waffle.BTW what does the “I`ll get back to you on that one” actually mean at the end of the day. Is there any actual intention to “get back” to confirm or clarify or is it simply a US Admin spokesperson`s way of shutting the door on a particularly embarrassing line of questioning ?

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