Entries in Gaza (2)


US Officials Emphasize ‘De-escalating’ Gaza Violence

State Department photo/ Public Domain(WASHINGTON) -- As news reports emerged Tuesday of a ceasefire or truce to end the crisis in Gaza, American officials made it a point not to use either of those terms.

Instead, U.S. officials were talking about “de-escalating” the violence in Gaza as a step toward a long-term resolution.

Briefing White House reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes repeatedly said “de-escalation” was the goal for ending the violence in Gaza and Israel.

When asked if he was avoiding using the term “ceasefire,” Rhodes said, "No, I mean, there are many ways that you can achieve the goal of a de-escalation.” He added, "Our bottom line is, is an end to rocket fire. We’re open to any number of ideas for achieving that goal. We’ve discussed any number of ideas for accomplishing that goal. But it’s going to have to begin with a reduction of tensions and space created for the situation to calm. ”

At the State Department briefing earlier in the day, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was also using “de-escalation.”

Nuland was asked several times why she was using that term instead of “ceasefire” or “truce.”  She indicated it was because the State Department did not want to get into characterizing acceptable terminology.  “I’m not going to characterize X is acceptable, Y is not acceptable. That’s a subject for negotiation,” she said.

Furthermore, she said, “because the parties are talking, we’re going to be part of that, and we’re not going to negotiate it here from the podium. We’re not going to characterize it here from the podium.”

The message she did want to get across was that “any de-escalation is a step forward.”

Of the long-term aims of Secretary of State Clinton’s last-minute mission to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo, Nuland said you “obviously start with a de-escalation of this conflict.”  From there, “we have to see an end to the rocket fire on Israel. We have to see a restoration of calm in Gaza. And the hope is that if we can get through those stages, that will create space for the addressing of broader issues, but I don’t want to prejudge. This is obviously ongoing and live diplomacy.”

Before her meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Clinton too avoided using the term “ceasefire.”

After describing America’s commitment to Israel’s security as “rock-solid and unwavering,” Clinton said, “That is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza.”

Clinton said that the rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza “must end and a broader calm restored.”  She added that the focus was on "a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State Department Spokesperson Grilled on 'Quiet Diplomacy' Policy on Gaza

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At a State Department briefing Monday, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked about the diplomatic progress to end the violence in Gaza. Over the weekend, Nuland released a statement detailing the telephone calls Secretary Clinton made to five different allies, underscoring the intense diplomacy taking place behind the scenes to try and de-escalate the situation.

But Monday, when reporters questioned Nuland on the specifics of what the U.S. is doing, Nuland refused at least 11 times to discuss any details of the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts, frustrating the press corps.

Reporters took the spokesperson to task for her non-answers, wondering why if leaders of allies such as Turkey and Egypt are forcefully speaking out against Israel while also helping to negotiate a ceasefire, the United States has not just as forcefully spoken out in defense of the Jewish state.

When questioned about whether "quiet diplomacy" is helping in negotiations, Nuland simply responded, "We are working hard with the parties."

One reporter continued to push, accusing the U.S. of "staying silent while people are dying left and right," and criticized the State Department for not responding to Turkey's president calling Israel's actions "acts of terror" against the Palestinians.

“I'm not going to get into a public spitting match with allies on either side. We're just not going to do that, OK?" said Nuland.

After several minutes of the contentious exchange an exasperated Nuland finally responded, “We of course agree that rhetorical attacks against Israel are not helpful at this moment. Is that what you were looking for?”

Nuland did respond to questions about calls from members of Congress to have aid in Egypt re-evaluated if the country does not reign in Hamas. She said, “There's no stipulation with regard to this issue in legislation,” but that Congress still has to approve the release of appropriated funds, and that the State Department is still working with the hill on getting economic support funds released.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio