|"We erred": The Guardian|
There's another organization, larger than the Guardian newspaper and more powerful, that still may be stuck in a cognitive rut on the same question.
We're speaking of the US government, and its foreign policy arm, the State Department. We're frankly not sure what their updated position is about the matter, assuming they have one, because repeated efforts we have made over the past two and a half months to get clarification remain unanswered.
It started like this.
On August 13, 2013, we (the writers of this blog) were among the signatories to an open letter delivered to the office of John Kerry, Secretary of State. The full text of that letter is here on the Bereaved Families for Peace and Justice site. We received confirmation that it was received. And via an article in The Daily Beast some hours later, we learned that officials in the State Department were "reviewing it".
Our letter expresses dismay and puzzlement and the opposition of the bereaved individuals signing it to the decision to free unrepentant killers as well as to the role played by the US government. It invites Kerry to sit with us and talk.
|Abbas clutching hands of murdering terrorists; zero sign |
of remorse, regret or acknowledgment that they are killers
Q: Now, in terms of the—in terms of the prisoners—in terms of the prisoner release, this is—hasn’t actually happened yet. It’s not supposed to happen until tonight. But you do think it’s a good thing, yeah?
MS. HARF: Mmm hmm. Yes.
Q: Even though it’s a hypothetical—
MS. HARF: Same place I was—
Q: —because it hasn’t happened yet.
MS. HARF: Well, it’s something that they have approved, that’s in the — that’s in the pipeline.
Q: But that hasn’t happened yet.
MS. HARF: I don’t know where we are in the process, but yes, it’s something that’s been approved by the Israeli Cabinet.
Q: So you’re prepared to go ahead and say it’s hypothetical thing—
MS. HARF: Well, it’s not a hypothetical because it’s a step—
Q: It is a hypothetical because it hasn’t happened.
MS. HARF: —it’s been approved by the Israeli government.
Q: Is hasn’t happened yet.
MS. HARF: OK, but it’s a step that’s been approved.
Q: OK. I just want you to remember this conversation because we’re going to have it over—
MS. HARF: I remember all of our conversations, Matt.
Q: —over—we’re going to have it over a different issue maybe even later in this briefing—not—
MS. HARF: Understood.
MS. HARF: It’s not a hypothetical policy decision. The policy decision has been made and it’s being implemented as we speak.
Q: All right. OK. All right, that’s fine. Do you have any thoughts or position on whether these people who are going to be released—this hypothetical release—are political prisoners or are they terrorists?
MS. HARF: I do not have a position on that.
Q: Do you object to the Palestinians referring to them as political prisoners?
MS. HARF: I don’t have a position on that. I’m happy to look into it and if I have something to share I can.
Q: Can you?
MS. HARF: I can.
Q: Can you find maybe—because this is big bone of contention. The—I mean, most of these people have been convicted of murder, of killing people. And the Israelis are very clear on the fact that they think that these people are terrorists, even though they’re releasing them. The Palestinians say that they are political prisoners and I—and they have instructed their ambassadors, all their representatives around the world to refer to them as freedom fighters, political prisoners. And I want to know, if you don’t have a position, on what they—
MS. HARF: On what we call them.
Q: —on what—if there isn’t anything that you call them, do you object to the Palestinians referring to them as freedom fighters?
MS. HARF: The answer is, I don’t know and I will endeavor to get an answer for you on that as well. I think I would—I would make the point that this clearly a difficult step for the Israeli government to take, but that it did show that they are putting some trust in the Palestinian Authority, investing in the PA’s success and that we do think it’s a positive step. But in terms of terminology, I will look into that and see what I can do.
Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman for the State Department, told The Daily Beast, “We’ve received the letter today [the one we bloggers co-wrote], and we’re reviewing it.” She also said Kerry “respects the exclusive right of the Israeli government to make these decisions.” But Harf stressed that Israel alone made the decision to release the prisoners. “The decision to release these prisoners was taken by Israel only after the most serious review, at the highest levels of the Israeli government,” she said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu made a tough decision that he determined was in the best interests of the Israeli people.” [Daily Beast]