Daily Israel Report

State Dept. Refuses to Stand Up For Israel on Summit

State Dept. refuses to stand up for Israel against a Turkish statement that it vetoed Israel’s participation in a NATO summit.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/24/2012, 3:22 PM

Hillary Clinton at press conference at NATO
Hillary Clinton at press conference at NATO
Reuters

The U.S. State Dept. refused on Monday to stand up for Israel against a Turkish statement that it vetoed Israel’s participation in a NATO summit.

State Dept. spokeswoman Victoria Nuland fended off a round of questions on the Obama administration’s support of Israel by a persistent Associated Press reporter  who went so far as to tell Nuland, I’m trying to help you out here, because you’re going to get absolutely slammed for not backing Israel..

“If the US can’t say it wants Israel to participate, its main ally in the Middle East, and you won’t come out and say that the Administration wants them to participate in whatever event is going in Chicago, that’s – that is going to be seized on,” he said.

Arutz Sheva reported Monday that Turkey is “punishing” Israel by vetoing its participation in the May summit in Chicago because of the clash with IHH terrorists on the Mavi Mamara flotilla boat two years ago.

The IHH members on board, armed with metal clubs and knives, brutally attacked and kidnapped Navy commandos who had rappelled down a rope from a hovering helicopter after the ship's captain refused to change course from Gaza, which is under a maritime embargo aimed at preventing the entry of terrorists and weapons.

Veteran reporter Matthew Lee told Nuland that the United States is “not happy” with Turkey’s decision to block Israel from the NATO summit. He told Nuland that sources claim “It [the US] is disappointed and trying to convince the Turks not to block Israel from NATO.  Do you have any comment on that – on those reports?”

Nuland  dodged the question, responding that “those discussions are continuing as we head towards the May summit in Chicago".

Lee tried a different angle and asked, “Are you comfortable with the Turkish position?

Nuland again declined to give a straight answer. “Again, I’m not going to comment on internal deliberations going on at NATO about arrangements for the summit,: she said.

Lee reminded her that NATO works by consensus and  that if one NATO member objected to Israel or any other country’s participation in a partnership dialogue, "you wouldn’t be allowed to – that country wouldn’t be allowed to participate.”

The spokeswoman did not budge. “We need consensus at NATO,” she said. “And again, Israel is one of NATO’s partners, has participated over the years in many, many, many NATO activities, consultations, exercises, et cetera.  So we’re going to keep working on the arrangements for partnership at Chicago, but I don’t have anything particular to announce today.”

Lee’s next attempt was to ask, "Would the Administration be comfortable if Israel did not participate?

It didn’t work. Nuland told him, “Again, there are many, many ways that these partnership activities may go forward.  They’ve been done in different ways at different summits.  So I’m not going to get into what we’re talking about, how it might work, who’s going to come.  We’re still working on all of that.”

The Associated Press reporter seemed to be fed up and asked Nuland, “The Administration won’t come out and say that it wants Israel to be at the – to participate at the summit in Chicago?...

"Is it important to the United States for Israel to participate?...

“The Turks wouldn’t be objecting to Israel’s participation if someone hadn’t proposed that Israel participate.  And if you have proposed that they participate -- and you’re not willing to stick up for it, I don’t understand why", he persisted.

Nuland had the last word by using a lot of words to say very little.

“I’m not going to get into, here, what we have proposed and where we are in the internal dialogue at NATO until the issues are settled by consensus. That’s not the way NATO works.  Okay?

“Let’s move on.”