AP Reporter vs. State Department Spokeswoman On Silence Over Israel
A spirited exchange between an Associated Press reporter and spokesperson Victoria Nuland marked the U.S. State Department's daily briefing Monday on the continued violence between Israel and Hamas. Transcript below.
MATTHEW LEE, AP: How do you â€“ this whole thing of saying nothing, Iâ€™m not sure I understand why you think that thatâ€™s helpful to the situation. You say that it would not be helpful for you to discuss any of your conversations, that quiet diplomacy is the way to de-escalate that. Well, youâ€™ve been doing your quiet diplomacy now for almost a week. Howâ€™s it going so far?
MS. VICTORIA NULAND: We are working hard with the parties. Weâ€™re working hard with --
QUESTION: Hasnâ€™t it occurred to anybody that maybe being less quiet might get more results, though? Squeaky wheel gets grease, that kind of thing?
MS. NULAND: Iâ€™ll let the --
QUESTION: Youâ€™re being silent while people are dying left and right.
MS. NULAND: Matt, we are being far from silent. The President has --
QUESTION: Youâ€™re not telling us anything about what youâ€™re â€“ when the Turks come out â€“ when the leaders of Turkey come out and say that Israel is engaged in acts of terrorism and you refuse to say that you donâ€™t agree with that â€“ or maybe you do agree with it â€“ thatâ€™s being silent.
MS. NULAND: Matt, we have made a decision that we need to engage in our diplomatic work diplomatically. We have been very, very clear about where we stand on this, which is that â€“ which is --
QUESTION: And thatâ€™s because you donâ€™t practice diplomacy from the podium? Is that what youâ€™re getting back to?
MS. NULAND: We donâ€™t practice diplomacy --
MS. NULAND: -- from the podium. We have been very clear that Israel has a right of self-defense. Weâ€™ve been very clear that rockets continue to be fired and land on Israel. Weâ€™ve been very clear that we are working to try to get this conflict de-escalated. We have been very clear about our concern for the civilians and innocents on both sides who are getting caught in this, and thatâ€™s as --
QUESTION: And yet you wonâ€™t stick up for your ally, Israel, when the Turks, another one of your allies, say that theyâ€™re engaged in terrorism in Gaza?
MS. NULAND: We have been extremely clear about our concern for Israelâ€™s security, about the fact that Israel has a right to self-defense, but I am not going to go further than that today, Matt.
QUESTION: Why canâ€™t you say that you donâ€™t agree with the Turks?
MS. NULAND: Because Iâ€™m not going to get into a public spitting match with allies on either side. Weâ€™re just not going to do that, okay?
QUESTION: And you think that thatâ€™s worse? A public spitting match with one of your allies is worse than hundreds of people dying every day?
MS. NULAND: I donâ€™t understand the question here. Thereâ€™s not a question here. Youâ€™re just looking for a fight. Letâ€™s go.
QUESTION: No, no, no. The fight is already on.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Absolutely.
QUESTION: The fightâ€™s going on over there.
MS. NULAND: Absolutely.
QUESTION: And you guys, by refusing to say anything about what youâ€™re trying to do or refusing to say whether you agree or disagree with comments that are being made by your allies or others --
MS. NULAND: We --
QUESTION: -- that makes things worse, not better.
MS. NULAND: We, of course, agree that rhetorical attacks against Israel are not helpful at this moment.
MS. NULAND: Is that what you were looking for, Matt?
QUESTION: Yes. Thank you. Yes.
MS. NULAND: Thank you.