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Spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked a number of questions regarding Israel yesterday. Below is an excerpt from the State Department Briefing.
QUESTION: Egypt? I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about these
comments that President Morsi made before he was President that were strident,
shall we say, and vitriolic against Israel and Jews and even the U.S. President
Obama. One, what do you think of them, and two, are these the words – as a
leader who says something like this, can you really, honestly expect him to
uphold the peace agreement with people that he describes as the descendents of
pigs and apes?
MS. NULAND: Well, we obviously strongly condemn the remarks attributed
to then Muslim Brotherhood leader Morsi in 2010. The language that we’ve seen is
deeply offensive; we completely reject these statements as we do any language
that espouses religious hatred.
This kind of rhetoric has been used in this region for far too long; it’s
counter to the goals of peace. And we want to see President Morsi make
absolutely clear to his own people, to the international community, that he
respects people of all faiths, and that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable
or productive in a democratic Egypt from its President. So we are obviously
raising our concerns with the Egyptian Government.
What I would say is that since he has been President, President Morsi has
reaffirmed again and again Egypt’s commitment to the peace treaty, to working
with, in both word and deed, he’s been willing to work with us and Israel on
shared objectives, including the ceasefire in Gaza. He’s been committed to our
bilateral relationship, so that is the basis on which we are continuing to work
together going forward.
QUESTION: As you know, Israel is refusing – threatened to refuse to
submit its Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights to the Human Rights
Council. I’m wondering how strongly you think that this is a bad idea. What have
you been telling the Israelis about it? And do you think that they should
participate, even though the council – you have problems with the council, and
they have serious problems with the council?
MS. NULAND: Matt’s referring to the fact that in the Human Rights
Council, all states are reviewed every four years. The U.S. submits to these
kinds of reviews as well. We think it’s important for all UN member-states to
appear for their own Universal Periodic Review. Frankly, this is an opportunity
for that member-state once every four years to report on its own views of the
human rights situation inside of its country and to receive nonbinding, expert
advice and recommendations on how to improve those conditions. We do it; we find
it useful to us.
That said, we’ve also consistently registered our opposition to the council’s
consistent anti-Israel bias. It doesn’t serve the interests of the council to
single out any one country in an unbalanced manner. But nonetheless, we think
it’s in Israel’s interest. Obviously, they’ll decide their own interest. But we
think that Israel, like all countries, serves itself by coming and
QUESTION: You’re not suggesting that the Human Rights Council has been
biased against Israel, are you?
MS. NULAND: Yeah. We do. We are. (Laughter.) We are, as we have
consistently said. We have always been clear that we consider that the
disproportionate and biased opposition to Israel within the Human Rights Council
further politicizes that body and doesn’t serve the interests of the Human
Rights Council. We’ve said that all along. As you know, almost every year we
have to take issue with something that comes up in the Human Rights Council with
regard to Israel.
QUESTION: So why – if you feel that way, what is the value of doing
that, or asking Israel to appear before the council and submit a report?
MS. NULAND: I think I just went through this; that they’re going to do
a report on every country once every four years. That country serves itself
better by appearing and making its own case than being silent and letting this
go forward without them. That’s our view.