US Plays 'Dodge'em' on Promises

The U.S. State Dept. refuses to state whether Secretary Clinton will stand behind promises to Prime Minister Netanyahu and put them in writing.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 10:17 AM

State Departement spokesman Crowley
State Departement spokesman Crowley
Israel news photo: State Department video screenshot

The U.S. State Department has refused to state whether Secretary Hillary Clinton will stand behind verbal promises to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and put them in writing, while the Cabinet met Wednesday without discussing the proposal.

In Tuesday’s daily press briefing that turned into a game of “dodge’em,” reporters badgered U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley to answer, “Are you prepared to give them [Israel] a piece of paper that outlines what you’re willing to do to get them back to the table.”

Crowley replied, “We’re prepared to do everything that we can to create the conditions for both the Palestinians and the Israelis to have confidence to return to direct negotiations.”

Most of the question and answer session on Israel consisted of several attempts to corner Crowley, whose repetitious answers could have passed as a broken record.

The ping-pong session ended in a tie. The reporters were not satisfied, Crowley did not budge, and the “Clinton freeze” proposal may remain on ice when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with his Cabinet Wednesday. Government officials have said that without a letter of guarantees, he will not present the freeze proposal for a vote.

Crowley supplied a one-track answer to various questions from State Department reporters, who opened the session by asking a simple question: “Have you sent them this proposal?” Crowley replied, “I am not going to get into specifics as to where we are. We’re trying to encourage both sides to get back into negotiations.”

Another reporter then asked, “The Israeli Government, too, has blamed the Palestinian Authority for thwarting the understanding between Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Have you got any reaction from the Palestinians?

Crowley again stated, “We – our efforts are to get both parties back into direct negotiations as soon as possible.”

The journalists did not give up: “Are you prepared to give them a piece of paper that outlines what you’re willing to do to get them back to the table?”

Crowley rolled out a virtual tape recorder and repeated, “We’re prepared to do everything that we can to create the conditions for both the Palestinians and the Israelis to have confidence to return to direct negotiations.

Take four from another reporter: “Look, the Israelis have come out and said they’re not going to vote on this tomorrow in the cabinet because they’re waiting for a written proposal. I fail to see how it would affect the negotiations if you say that yes, you’re willing to consider giving them something in writing.”

Crowley’s’ repeat performance: "We want to get them back into negotiations. We’re trying to create the conditions to do that.”

Frustrated questioners tried again: “A piece of paper, whether you’re willing to write something down on a piece of paper is not the substance – is not substantive…I’m just asking if you are willing to give them something written down.”

Again Crowley answered, “We will do everything that we can to encourage the parties to get back into negotiations.”

The journalists made one last college try: “Do you think you can do that without giving them a piece of paper?”

Crowley’s answer was different this time. He said. “It’s a very good question,” as everyone laughed.

In Jerusalem, no one is laughing. 



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