Thank you, Mr. Mark Toner, for reminding people that Israel has the right to self-defense. Below is an excerpt from a State Department briefing of November 13th.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask about – I don’t recall there’s been yet a United States reaction to the shelling that happened between Israel and Syria over the weekend because of our long weekend. I just wonder how the United States is viewing this and whether you were concerned by what happened in the Golan Heights.
MR. TONER: Well, right. No, we very much condemn Syrian shelling across the ceasefire line in the Golan Heights and we stand closely with our friend and ally, Israel, and are continuing to consult closely on the path forward.
QUESTION: But you don’t condemn the Israelis firing back then?
MR. TONER: They have a right to self-defense.
Below is another interesting exchange about how diplomacy works.
QUESTION: Despite the President’s direct expression of displeasure to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority President, it seems that they are going ahead to the General Assembly. So – which will engender reaction, I guess, or then enforcement of the law as on the books. Could you share with us how, mechanically, how this happens? I mean, they go to the UN, they get accepted, then you shut off, let’s say, the PLO office like immediately?
MR. TONER: I’m not going to get into next steps. We’re still at the stage where we’re actively trying to convince them that this is a bad idea, that this is not going to get them the results ultimately that they seek. So we’ve been clear in the past about what some of the consequences that this would generate or engender. I think we put out a taken question about it a couple weeks ago. But in terms of next steps, our focus remains on convincing the Palestinian Authority that the only way to achieve the goals it seeks is through the negotiation table.
QUESTION: Can I ask how much more active can you be than having the President of the United States with an hour-long phone call to the President of the Palestinian Authority?
MR. TONER: Well, I think that shows how active and how serious --
QUESTION: And he still came out --
MR. TONER: -- and how seriously we take it.
QUESTION: -- in less than 24 hours and said basically I’m not going to listen to you, I’m going to go ahead and do it. What more active trying – what more active are you doing --
MR. TONER: Well, look, I mean --
QUESTION: -- to get them to change their mind when it’s clear when an hour-long phone call with the leader of the free world doesn’t do it?
MR. TONER: I think that we’re going to continue to press our case. David Hale is actually going to Europe this week. He’ll be in Bern and he’ll meet with President Abbas there.
QUESTION: And so you think that the Special Envoy for the Middle East – for Middle East Peace efforts has more weight than the President, than the recently reelected President of the United States?
MR. TONER: This is not a question of who has more weight. This is a question of us continuing to pursue --
QUESTION: Well, I’m just – do you --
MR. TONER: -- what we believe is the best course of action.
QUESTION: Is it your hope that David Hale’s meeting with President Abbas is going to produce a result that was different than an hour-long phone conversation from the President?
MR. TONER: You know how diplomacy works, right? This is – there’s --
QUESTION: Yeah, I do. And it’s usually when you get to the presidential --
MR. TONER: It’s incremental and it’s --
QUESTION: Yeah, but usually it goes the other way around. You start with the special envoy and get to the President.
MR. TONER: Well, again, our engagement speaks for itself.