Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday 19 November 2012
On the flight between Burma and Cambodia, Ben Rhodes, the White House national security adviser, replying to a reporter's question about what the US strategy is, said: "Our position continues to be that those nations in the region, particularly nations that have influence over Hamas, and that's principally Egypt and Turkey, also Qatar … that those nations need to use that influence to de-escalate the conflict. And de-escalation has to begin with, again, an end to rocket fire from Gaza."
repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and...

1 - 2008
"Well, they started squeezing Hamas almost immediately. Originally, in the weeks right after the late-January election, Hamas wanted to form a relatively moderate government that would include a large number of political "independents" under the leadership of Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh as Prime Minister. But as I know-- because I was the conduit of one of these threats-- threats of lethal violence were sent by the Israelis to any Palestinian "independents" who might be even considering joining a Haniyeh-led government. As a result, none of them did; and the government that Haniyeh ended up forming was 100% Hamas.

[HC in reply to a comment] I have written about it before. It was Ziad. The threat was conveyed to me by Ziad's and my mutual friend Ze'ev Schiff, a decent man who had been extremely close to successive generations of the leaders of Israel's security establishment for half a century before his death last year.

To be specific, when I spoke with Ze'ev on the phone before I went to Gaza in March 2006-- and he did help me to get in-- he asked if I was going to see Ziad, who was then widely reported to be considering an offer from Hamas to be Haniyeh's Foreign Minister (as he subsequently became, during the brief life of the 2007 national unity government.) I said yes. He said-- and he repeated this a couple of times to make sure I got the meaning clear-- that I should tell Ziad he would face "the worst possible consequences" if he joined the Haniyeh government, and that he said this "on good authority."

I did pass the message on to Ziad.

Ziad also faced considerable family-based pressure from the Americans since his three children from his first marriage were at college here in the US, and I suppose if he had joined the Haniyeh government and then tried to visit them here he could be arraigned on all kinds of charges of aiding and abetting terrorists. But Ze'ev's words about "the worst possible consequences" struck me as constituting a more severe and immediate threat.
2 - 2008
Regarding the Tahdiya [calm], Hacham said Barak stressed that while it was not permanent, for the time being it was holding. There have been a number of violations of the ceasefire on the Gaza side, but Palestinian factions other than Hamas were responsible. Hacham said the Israelis assess that Hamas is making a serious effort to convince the other factions not to launch rockets or mortars. Israel remains concerned by Hamas' ongoing efforts to use the Tahdiya to increase their strength, and at some point, military action will have to be put back on the table….
3 - 2010
Hamas in Gaza tried to ease tension with Israel and Egypt Tuesday, urging other Palestinians to stop firing rockets into the western Negev and promising Cairo answers over the shooting of an Egyptian soldier at the border.

Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Islamist movement's government in the coastal enclave, said other armed groups in the Gaza Strip should observe what has amounted to a ceasefire since Israel's major offensive a year ago. That, Haniyeh said, was in the interests of protecting Gazans from Israeli attacks.

On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had warned Hamas to rein in its allies "or else" - a threat of more Israeli action.

Rocket fire by smaller groups Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, and Israeli air strikes that killed several Palestinians, made the past two weeks among the most violent since the three-week war that killed 13 Israelis and over 1,400 Palestinians before a ceasefire in mid-January 2009.
4 - 2011


5 - 2011

Issandr El Amrani at Arabist: "Please take 15m of your time and watch this excruciating video of last Thursday's State Dept. briefing."


Exchange with Matt Lee:
QUESTION: But do you see going to the UN as anathema to an approach in getting them – why can’t it be embraced as part of an approach to get them back to the table instead of being viewed as an enemy of getting them back to the table? 
MR. TONER: Well, Matt, again, what we’ve tried to be clear all along here is that our focus, and we believe the parties’ focus, should be in direct negotiations because it’s only by dealing with these issues through direct negotiations that they’re going to reach a settlement. So one-off actions in New York don’t accomplish anything at the end of the day. 
QUESTION: But why can’t you -- 
MR. TONER: We’re going to continue to work today, tomorrow, through New York to get the parties back to the negotiating table. But our position all along – I don’t know how it could be more clear – is that we think these -- 
QUESTION: It can’t be any more clear. I’m not asking you what your position is. 
MR. TONER: We think these -- 
QUESTION: I’m asking why you lack the creativity to use this as leverage to get them back to the negotiating table, instead of trying to fight a losing battle in which you’re going to be the only – you’re going to be isolated, the Israelis are going to be isolated, because if they go to the General Assembly, they’re going to win. 
MR. TONER: Precisely because -- 
QUESTION: So why don’t -- 
MR. TONER: -- because we think it’s -- 
QUESTION: Why isn’t there anyone in this Administration that has the brainpower, the creativity, to use this as a positive thing to build momentum instead of regarding it as completely a negative thing? 
MR. TONER: Because it’s counterproductive. 
QUESTION: Well -- QUESTION: But that’s -- 
QUESTION: Why is it – it’s counterproductive to you. To the Palestinians, it gives them some kind of hope, some kind of confidence, that when they do sit down – let me finish – when they do sit down at the negotiating table, that they have more leverage than some kind of nonentity that they’re treated as now.
6 -  Daily Press Briefing: July 3, 2012

Video at the link is queued up to this exchange: The questioner is Matt Lee.
*MS. NULAND:*  We have no reason to believe that it [Human Rights Watch report on Syria] is not credible. It’s based on eyewitness accounts, and they’re reporting from a broad cross-section of human rights figures inside Syria. 
*QUESTION:*  So the next time Human Rights Watch comes out with a report that’s critical of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, I’ll assume that you’re going to be saying the same thing, correct; that you think that the report is credible, it’s based on eyewitness accounts? 
*MS. NULAND:* As -- 
*QUESTION:* And you’re not going to say that it’s politically motivated and should be dismissed? 
*MS. NULAND: * Matt, as you have made clear again and again in this room, we are not always consistent. 
*QUESTION:* So, in other words, anything that Human Rights Watch says that is critical of someone you don’t like, that’s okay; but once they criticize someone that you do like, then it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on?
*MS. NULAND:*  Matt, I’m not going to get into colloquy on this one.

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