The State Department says it is counting on the Israeli government to conduct a “prompt and transparent” investigation of Israeli forces’ killings of two youths on Nakba Day last Thursday near Ofer prison. It is “closely following this incident” and questions whether the use of force was proportional to the threat posed by the demonstrators.
In questions at 52:00 in the video above, Matt Lee of AP says that the shooting appear to have been sniper fire. Jen Psaki of State is careful to express no judgment on the disturbing video.
Matt Lee: There’s this video footage that surfaced yesterday, and more to the point today, showing what appears to be snipers shooting and fatally wounding two Palestinian teenagers. Have you seen this video? If you have, do you – have you talked to the Israelis about it? What’s your reaction?
MS. PSAKI: We are closely following this incident in the video. We’re seeking additional information from the Government of Israel, so we certainly have been in touch. We look to the Government of Israel to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation to determine the facts surrounding this incident, including whether or not the use of force was proportional to the threat posed by the demonstrators. We express, of course, our condolences to the families of those deceased and urge all parties to exercise restraint.
Lee: Judging from what you have seen on this video, was the response proportional to the threat?
MS. PSAKI: We’re not going to make an evaluation on that from here. We are encouraging the Government of Israel to conduct their own investigation.
Lee: Do you – what have the Israelis told you in response to your query? That they’re – that they are investigating?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other update. I can check and see if there’s more a response from their end.
Lee: Do you have any reason to – people have looked at the video, right?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
Lee: Do you all have any reason to believe that it was edited in some way to make it appear different than the actual reality on the ground?
MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, Matt. But obviously, an investigation is the right step in this process.
Lee: Okay. And then one more that’s just kind of related to this, and also on journalists —
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
Lee: Have you seen that there was a – reports or claims that an Israeli journalist was roughed up, nearly lynched by Palestinians in the same kind of – around this same area? Have you seen those?
MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen that. Obviously, that would raise serious concerns. But let me look into it more closely with our team.
MS. PSAKI: Said.
QUESTION: The British Government is establishing a legal office for the Palestinians in Jerusalem for recourse on issues such as this that concern – are you – do you have any plans to do the same thing, to emulate the British and perhaps provide the Palestinians with some legal aid when they need it?
MS. PSAKI: We provide the Palestinians a range of assistance. I’m not aware of anything new and I don’t have anything new to announce.
QUESTION: Okay. Following up on yesterday’s discussion regarding the government: Do you have any more information regarding accepting a government, a coalition government that includes Hamas if they do accept the Quartet principles?
MS. PSAKI: Again, the announcement was the creation of an interim government of independent technocrats. Obviously, we don’t have the details at this point. Abiding by the Quartet principles has long been our view – or our requirement. So we’ll base our assessment on – when we have more information.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. Thanks, everyone.
Oh and there was this on Naftali Bennett’s move to annex Area C. Bennett is a member of the government, but notice how the State Department washes its hands of Bennett, and wraps its arms around Netanyahu:
QUESTION: In terms of that, I had asked a question yesterday about Minister Bennett’s Area C annexation idea.
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you have a response to that?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: And then I have another one about this shooting.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, we have seen similar statements to Minister Bennett’s. We’ve seen them in the past. They don’t reflect the position of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government. Our position is clear. Final status issues including borders can only be resolved through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and obviously we believe that’s the proper place for addressing them.
QUESTION: So if there was a movement to go ahead within – even within the government, you would tell the Prime Minister that you think that this is a bad idea? Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve stated that. But it also doesn’t reflect his view, either, so —
MS. PSAKI: Prime Minister Netanyahu.
QUESTION: Oh, Netanyahu. Okay.