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Thursday, May 17, 2007
State Department praises Abbas for doing everything he can, warns Israel of consequences of defending itself

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: If the Olmert-Livnat team was wondering if Israel
has succeeded in getting its message across, Sean McCormack's remarks make
it clear that it hasn't.

But it isn't surprising. You can't praise "moderate" Abbas at every photo
op and expect less from Foggy Bottom. ]

State Department Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 17, 2007


QUESTION: How concerned are you that the recent violence in Gaza is going
to -- both among Palestinians themselves and between the Israelis and
Palestinians, going to set you back in terms of your efforts to move this

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the -- certainly, violence perpetrated by Hamas, as we
have seen recently, doesn't further the cause of peace. What is does is --
resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians and it also underscores the
importance of reaching those political accommodations on the
Israeli-Palestinian track among those individuals who are committed to peace
like Prime Minister Olmert, like President Abbas, and the people around him
and that work directly for him.

We would hope that Hamas would make another choice; in making a choice for
peace, in making a choice for a Palestinian state, because the only way that
they're going to see that is via the negotiating table. They're not going to
see it by launching Qassam rockets into Israel. They're not going to see it
by attacking the legitimate security forces of the Palestinian Authority.
They're not going to see it by sending young people armed with suicide vests
to blow up other Israeli youngsters. So --

QUESTION: But you --

MR. MCCORMACK: The Palestinians themselves are going to have to resolve that
central contradiction where you have a group like Hamas that is committed to
the use of terror, but also says it wants to be involved in a democratic
process. The Palestinians are going to have to resolve that, but to bring it
back, what all the -- what the violence underscores is the fact that it is
all the more important that all those committed to peace in the region work
actively and do everything that they can to move forward the process of

QUESTION: Would you say that President Abbas is doing all that he can to
stop this violence in terms of Hamas attacks from Gaza into Israel? Because
it seems as if, anyway, that this is leading to another escalation of
violence between Israelis and Palestinians that will set you even -- back
even further.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, President Abbas is committed to ending violence. He has
never -- he has always been somebody that has shunned the use of terror. He
has counseled against it. He is somebody who has actively worked for peace.
He is somebody who has actively advocated for negotiations as opposed to the
use of violence to realize a Palestinian state. We are urging all parties to
exercise restraint. We understand the Israeli Government has a right to
defend itself and they have explained that their actions, just over the past
day or so, have been in reaction to stopping -- trying to stop further
rocket launches into Israeli territory, rocket launches that have injured
Israeli citizens.

But we've also urged them to consider the consequences of their actions in
defending themselves on Palestinian infrastructure as well as on what effect
it might have on the prospects for moving forward the political process. But
we know that Prime Minister Olmert is somebody who is committed to working
actively on that political track.

QUESTION: But I mean, we all know about President Abbas' commitment --


QUESTION: -- to peace and his stated preference for negotiations, things
like that.


QUESTION: But in terms of this recent bout of violence, in terms of cracking
down on Hamas militants --


QUESTION: -- putting pressure on the Hamas part of the unity government to
put their own -- use their own leverage against the Hamas militants,
utilizing the security services -- I mean, is he doing all he can to stop
this from spiraling out of --

MR. MCCORMACK: We believe that President Abbas is somebody who is committed
to (a) the political negotiating track, (b) doing everything that he can to
break up terror networks, to stop those attacks emanating from the Gaza
Strip against Israel, and somebody who is committed also to building up a
professional security force in not only the West Bank, but in the Gaza
Strip. Now that's a work in progress and it's also a security force that was
attacked by these Hamas-affiliated and Hamas forces.

So we believe that he is somebody who is doing the right things. Now we
always encourage him to do everything he possibly can to do more, but we
believe he is somebody who is committed to doing all those right things.


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