US dodges key questions on Israel-PA relations

White House representative declines to commit over Paris peace talks conference, implies support for BDS in cryptic briefing.

Tova Dvorin,

The White House
The White House
Reuters

Washington continues to waffle over whether to attend a May 30 conference in Paris which would force peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), just two weeks before the date.  

"There has been no decision made yet on whether we can participate on May 30th," White House Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau stated during a Wednesday briefing. "However, we are interested in working cooperatively to pursue our shared goal for a two-state solution." 

"We remained concerned about the continued violence on the ground, and we welcome all ideas on moving this forward," she continued. "On this specific conference on the May 30th event, no decision’s been made on participation."

"We continue to look to both sides to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to a two-state solution."

Washington has yet to make a clear commitment about the conference, which would see Paris direct talks after years of US failures to mediate a peace deal. 

Israel Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon noted earlier this month that Israel "is not invited" to the conference, but that ultimately the stubborn party has been Ramallah - and that the US is, in fact, exasperated from mediating peace talks. 

'Don't question the US on freedom of expression' 

Trudeau also implied support for Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian Arab co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement who has recently been banned from traveling abroad via Israel. 

"Do you – you don’t find this a bit disturbing that Israel is using – uses whatever tactics to prevent this activism that is largely peaceful?" a questioner claimed during the briefing. 

Trudeau answered that "I would say, as a general principle, we support freedom of movement for Palestinians and permanent residents of Israel."

The questioner then asked: "Israel seems to be doing this against journalists, against activists and so on. Do you call on them not – to sort of cease and desist?"

Trudeau responded, "I don’t think anyone should question the U.S. Government on freedom of expression." 




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