State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to name a single benefit from the now failed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations Tuesday in the State Department press conference.
The Associated Press’s Matt Lee, in his trademark prosecutorial line of questioning, continually pressed Psaki to cite one benefit gained by either the Israelis or Palestinians. Psaki nebulously asserted she would not “lay out what happened behind closed doors,” but “progress was made.”
“But if — but if I’m an Israeli or I’m a Palestinian and today I look at my situation on the — as it exists on the ground, what would you tell me is the benefit […] to these last nine months of negotiations?” Lee asked.
The State Department press secretary offered a vacuous response, telling Lee “the benefit is talking about what the end game would be for a peace process where two parties are living side by side in peace and security.”
Some positive developments that occurred in the talks, she said, included Israel releasing convicted terrorists and the Palestinians temporarily agreeing not to pursue further international statehood recognition. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reneged on the latter pledge earlier this month, signing letters to join 15 international conventions.
Lee quickly pointed out one could construe the prisoner releases as a benefit to the Palestinians, but asked Psaki what Israel received in return. “I think there’s a larger goal and larger benefit, that’s the point I was making,” the State spokeswoman said without elaborating.
MATT LEE: Jen, outside of the progress that you would you say they’d made in the closed-door talks, can you point to one tangible, on-the- ground benefit that has resulted in the last nine months of negotiations?
JEN PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think, obviously, having both sides talk about these tough issues and be at the table together and address core issues that need to be reconciled in order to have two parties living side by side, we do see as a benefit.
LEE: Well —
PSAKI: I’m not going to lay out what happened behind closed doors, as you know. But again, that’s where the progress was made.
LEE: But if — but if I’m an Israeli or I’m a Palestinian and today I look at my situation on the — as it exists on the ground, what would you tell me is the benefit to having had — to having — to these last nine months of negotiations?
PSAKI: I would tell you that the benefit is talking about what the end game would be for a peace process where two parties are living side by side in peace and security.
LEE: Yeah, but the talks are over.
ELISE LABOTT: But weren’t there supposed — (off mic) — measures over the last kind of nine months that were supposed to create a climate for better peace? And I mean —
PSAKI: There were steps that the parties did take throughout the process, whether it was releasing prisoners or not going to the U.N.
Obviously those things —
LEE: Right. They — well, some of them happened. So the benefit to the Palestinians is that they got some of their prisoners released — not all of them. Is that — is that — is that my — (inaudible) —
PSAKI: One of the — I still —
LEE: What’s Israel’s benefit?
PSAKI: One of the, Matt. But again —
LEE: OK, well, there’s something you could point to —
PSAKI: — the Israeli and the Palestinian people believe there should be a two-state solution. Whether the leaders can get to that point is a separate question.
LEE: Right, but — right, but when I asked the question, can you show us one — tell us one benefit — point to one tangible benefit. I mean, that’s one that you could — that you could have — there are now Palestinian prisoners who had been in jail who have — who are back with their families, right? Is that the benefit?
PSAKI: I think there’s a larger goal and larger benefit, that’s the point I was making.