1:33 p.m. EDT
MS. HARF: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the briefing. I have a few items at the top, and then I will get to all of your questions.
The first: Today, on July 30th, you’ve probably seen that the U.S. Government took steps to impose visa restrictions on certain Venezuelan officials responsible for recent human rights abuses. Venezuelan officials affected by these restrictions include individuals at various levels of government, from government ministers and presidential advisors to judicial officials, law enforcement, and military officials as well. The actions we have taken today are not directed against the people of Venezuela, they are in support of our human – of human rights and narrowly target specific individuals responsible for repression. We cannot name specific individuals who are subject to these restrictions because of visa confidentiality governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act.
QUESTION: Could I just – however --
MS. HARF: Can I do my --
QUESTION: No, because it’s specifically about this. However --
MS. HARF: I have four items at the top. Can I just get through them?
QUESTION: Yeah, however, if one of those individuals who’s been hit comes out and talks about it publicly, you can confirm it, correct?
MS. HARF: I can find out.
Okay, second, on Syria: You may have also seen that today, Secretary of State Kerry is announcing the United States is providing nearly 378 million in additional U.S. humanitarian aid to help those affected by the war in Syria. With this funding, total U.S. humanitarian assistance since the start of the crisis will reach more than $2.4 billion, with 1.2 billion helping over 4.7 million people inside Syria, and 1.2 billion helping nearly 3 million refugees and host communities in the neighboring countries affected by the crisis.
As we all know, Syria remains one of the worst humanitarian crises in living memory; nearly 11 million Syrians today struggling to survive. The United States remains the single largest donor of food, shelter, medicine, and water to millions of vulnerable people in Syria and the region. Our funding also helps communities hosting refugees cope with the strain on public services and infrastructure.
Just two more items to get through at the top.
The third item: We are concerned about reports that China has indicted prominent economics professor Ilham Tohti. Since authorities took him and at least six of his students into police custody in Beijing on January 15th, we have been deeply concerned about the lack of transparency concerning his welfare and access to legal representation. We call on Chinese authorities to release Mr. Tohti and his students and to guarantee them the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China’s international human rights commitments, including freedom of expression.
And then a last travel update: The Secretary is in India today. I’d draw attention to two op-eds, one published today by Secretary Kerry and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker in The Economic Times of India in advance of tomorrow’s U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. The op-ed discusses ways the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy can forge a new era of shared prosperity and security for hundreds of millions of people in India, across Asia, and the world.
A second op-ed I would draw your attention to – and I have helpfully tweeted links to both of these if people want to go check that out – was from Secretary Kerry published in the Afghan press today online on TOLOnews. It’s been online in English, Dari, and Pashto, which is, I think, important for the Secretary to speak directly to the people of Afghanistan in their language. And the Secretary highlights that Afghans want and deserve a future full of promise, really highlighting how important this democratic moment is for both of the candidates here to come together and to forge a path forward here so they can count votes and hopefully get a new government in place as soon as all those votes are indeed counted.
So with that --
QUESTION: Right. Let’s start with the Middle East and Gaza. So the White House has just come out and condemned the shelling of the UNRWA school. Would you – can I just get you to offer the State Department’s or the Administration’s full reaction to this?
MS. HARF: Well, we do condemn the shelling of an UNRWA school in Gaza, which reportedly killed and injured innocent Palestinians, including children and UN humanitarian workers. Of course, we would also condemn those responsible for hiding weapons in United Nations facilities in Gaza as well. All of these actions and similar ones earlier in the conflict are inconsistent with the UN’s neutrality, which we’ve spoken about in the past.
QUESTION: When you say that you condemn the shelling, whose shelling are we talking about here?
MS. HARF: Well, we understand that UNRWA has put out a statement on its views. We would underscore the importance of a full and prompt investigation to determine the facts here.
QUESTION: So you are not ready to condemn Israel per se for the shelling of the school.
MS. HARF: Correct. We have said that there needs to be a full investigation to see what happened here.
QUESTION: But you’re condemning whoever it was that did it.
MS. HARF: Correct. That’s correct.
QUESTION: This is the first time that you all have used this word, and granted, I think to most lay people they don’t really understand the gradations of when you say you’re concerned, seriously concerned, you regret, you’re dismayed by. There is a staging – there are different levels with which the United States and other governments convey their approval or disapproval of certain things. What – condemn being up there pretty high as the strongest – I suppose you could say “condemn in the strongest possible terms.” But why now? Why are you – why didn’t you condemn earlier shelling of UN facilities?
MS. HARF: Well, we’ve throughout this process, Matt, condemned any attack on the UN’s neutrality. So we’ve certainly said that.
Again, we need to get all the facts here before we make determinations about what we’ll say, and I’m happy to stand here today and to condemn it; I’m happy to condemn any time the UN comes under fire like this throughout any conflict.
QUESTION: People in Israel, elsewhere actually, say that – have made the case that there are rockets, as you noted, and you also condemned the hiding of rockets in these schools.
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: Do you believe that this was an attempt to go after Hamas militants that were hiding rockets or go after a cache of rockets or go after a legitimate target?
MS. HARF: We’re still trying to get all the facts here.
QUESTION: Right, I understand that, but if you condemned the shelling then I’m assuming --
MS. HARF: Right, of the UN facility no matter what the purpose --
QUESTION: Okay. So even if there were militants, if there were people in there shooting out at the IDF, you would still --
MS. HARF: We’re still trying to get all the facts on it.
QUESTION: -- you would still condemn it?
MS. HARF: Well, I’m going to condemn it here. As I said – and I would make another point on hiding of rockets, that when militants or terrorists hide rockets in schools, it exposes UN staff, it exposes Palestinian internally displaced people, and it exposes other civilians to danger and to attack. So obviously, we have seen a pattern of Hamas hiding rockets in schools. I don’t know the – we don’t know the facts in terms of this specific school, and we’re trying to get that information right now.
QUESTION: Okay. According to UNRWA, this is the sixth time that one of their schools has been hit. Israel has, in the past, said that it regrets any civilian casualties, says that it’s doing its best not to – or to mitigate collateral damage. You have said in the past that you think Israel needs to do more to live up to its own very high standards. This keeps happening, though, and I’m wondering, these mistakes or these – I don’t know if you – I don’t know if “mistakes” is the right word, but this seems to happen over and over again. Are you concerned that Israel is not attempting to live up to its own very high standards, or do you believe that they are trying to but are falling short in these cases?
MS. HARF: Well, I do believe that they are trying to live up to the high standard they set for themselves. And again, they are in a situation where Hamas is hiding rockets in places to prevent the Israelis from going after them. So look, Hamas is taking steps here that put civilians at risk. But we do believe the Israelis need to do more.
QUESTION: All right. And does your condemnation today of this incident imply or come with any kind of consequences?
MS. HARF: In terms of what, Matt?
QUESTION: In terms of anything other than you saying you condemn it?
MS. HARF: I think, look, the Secretary, what he’s been focused on – to take a little bit of a step back here – is talking to the parties, even though he was on his way to India and is now there, about how we can get a temporary ceasefire in place. He’s continuing his efforts to this end. He’s had extensive consultations with the Israelis, the Egyptians, the Palestinian Authority and others. So again, he is very focused on seeing if we can get a temporary ceasefire in place here so we can stop what’s happening on the ground and so we can get some humanitarian items into Gaza as well.
QUESTION: But that’s not a consequence. He’s been trying to do that from since before. Is there any – are --
MS. HARF: Well, he’s still very focused on that.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any discussion of any specific consequence that could – that would result from your condemnation today of this one incident?
MS. HARF: We’re going to continue talking to the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority and the different parties about these issues.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? So you’ve condemned the shelling of the school --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- a UN facility --
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: -- and you said that this is against the principles of UN neutrality. Can you here just issue – are you issuing a call for both parties to avoid using the UN as – to making the UN a target?
MS. HARF: I think that certainly would go without saying, but I am happy to say it, Elise, that we have very strongly condemned the fact that Hamas has used UN facilities to hide rockets in, and we think that that is, of course, putting civilians at risk, and they should not do that. We also think that everyone, all sides should take care to respect the UN’s neutrality. As I said, all of this is inconsistent with that principle, which we think is very important. We know the Palestinian IDPs often seek out UN facilities because they have nowhere else to go, and so obviously we think it’s important that all sides avoid UN facilities.
QUESTION: Well, you specifically mentioned Hamas hiding rockets there, but you – then you said “all sides.” Specifically, are you asking the Israelis to not make any UN facilities a target because there are civilians that are seeking shelter there?
MS. HARF: I’m not going to make a blanket statement, Elise. What I’m going --
QUESTION: So sometimes it’s okay?
MS. HARF: I’m not saying that. I’m just not going to make a blanket statement about what our private conversations with the Israelis look like.
QUESTION: Well, but, I mean, you can’t publicly say that you don’t think that Israel should make any UN facility a target, regardless of --
MS. HARF: We don’t think that UN facilities should be targets, period. We also --
QUESTION: From either side.
MS. HARF: By anyone, yes. But look, we do know that Hamas has used them to store rockets they’re trying to kill Israelis with. So it’s complicated.
QUESTION: I’m not even disputing that. Let’s just skip --
MS. HARF: Right.
QUESTION: I mean, we can even put that aside. Even if there are --
MS. HARF: You can’t put it aside though.
QUESTION: No, you – I mean, I’m asking, even if there are rockets inside – and I’m not saying they should be used against Israel and I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be gotten rid of. I mean they should, but --
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: -- even if there are rockets inside, does that justify the killing of innocent civilians who have seeken shelter there?
MS. HARF: Well, look, obviously nothing justifies the killing of innocent civilians who’ve seeken shelter --
QUESTION: I mean, is that collateral damage for destroying rockets?
MS. HARF: -- in a UN facility. We believe the UN’s neutrality should be respected and recognized by everyone. We understand this is complicated. We understand – look, there’s a lot of different pieces happening on the ground, and quite frankly, a lot of facts we don’t know yet. We don’t know whether or not there were actually rockets in the school. We don’t know for certain who shelled the school. So we need to get all the facts. I don’t want to make blanket statements. I just want to put forward what our principles are, and we’ll – every time something happens, we will make a determination on that specific incident on its own merits.
QUESTION: Marie --
QUESTION: But you don’t know necessarily that there are rockets in the school. And --
MS. HARF: I can’t confirm that there were in this case specifically.
MS. HARF: We know they have used them.
QUESTION: I understand.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: Now the Israelis have kind of implied, if not said so explicitly sometimes, that particularly UNRWA is in cahoots with Hamas in some way, providing them shelter, allowing them to hide their rockets. Do you think that UNRWA is in any way complicit in what’s going on with Hamas storing any weapons or anything that might be --
MS. HARF: Not that I’ve heard of, Elise. And as you know, last week we announced more funding for UNRWA. I mean, look, UN shelters, including UNRWA shelters, are overflowing with Palestinians. Tens of thousands of Palestinians could soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza without food, without water, without shelter if attacks on these areas continue. And that’s why it is so important to respect the UN’s neutrality here when there are innocent civilians taking refuge in these schools.
QUESTION: So if the – all of these centers are overflowing with Palestinians, you can’t make a blanket statement that nobody should attack them?
MS. HARF: Elise, I’m not going to make a blanket statement.
QUESTION: Why not? I’m sorry.
MS. HARF: Because I think it’s a complicated situation and --
QUESTION: But how can it – I’m just – sorry –
MS. HARF: It’s okay.
QUESTION: How could it be complicated whether any facility with hundreds, if not thousands of civilians on either side --
MS. HARF: I – no, you wanted me to make a different blanket statement. We have said that innocent Palestinians seeking refuge in these schools should not be – have shells dropped on them, should not come under attack. But you wanted me to say something different.
QUESTION: I’m saying that if there are – if you know that – I’ll be very explicit about what I’m asking. If you know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians in any target, whether it’s a UN facility or anything, do you think that that is a legitimate target?
MS. HARF: Well, okay, two points before you say I’m not answering your question. I’m not going to stand up here and make a blanket statement about what is or is not a legitimate target. We’ll take each on its face value. But the second point is that, as I just said to Matt, we want the Israelis to make more steps to protect civilians. We know Gaza’s a very densely populated area. It’s difficult. We know that too. But we do think they need to take more steps. And look, when you see a school, an UNRWA school, another one, being shelled, reportedly having innocent civilians including children killed, it is pretty disturbing. So we’ll continue having the conversation.
QUESTION: Marie, are you aware of the number of Palestinians that are in UNRWA schools?
MS. HARF: That are under --
QUESTION: That are actually in UN facilities or UNRWA schools?
MS. HARF: I don’t have a number for you, Said. They may have one.
QUESTION: Okay. Are you aware that the head of UNHCR and UNRWA in Gaza just issued a statement that none of the schools where Palestinians are taking shelter had actually rockets in them? Are you aware of that?
MS. HARF: Well, I hadn’t seen the statement. As I said, I can’t confirm that they did. We’re trying to get all the facts right now.
QUESTION: Okay. And let me ask you something. They also said that the shell that hit the school was 155 millimeter shell, which is only the Israelis have. So why can’t you determine that?
MS. HARF: Because we don’t have all the facts yet, Said. There’s conflicting reports, and we want to get all the facts before we make statements.
QUESTION: Okay. Let me just --
QUESTION: What’s – sorry, sorry, sorry..
MS. HARF: Hey, let’s do one at time.
QUESTION: What is the – well, what’s the conflicting report?
MS. HARF: No, Said’s going to finish, and then I’ll go to you, Matt.
Go ahead, Said.
QUESTION: Yeah. Okay. Go ahead. What is the conflicting report? That’s a good question.
MS. HARF: Well, we’ve – (laughter) --
QUESTION: Okay. I’ll just leave and everyone else can ask the question.
MS. HARF: So you’re helped Matt out.
MS. HARF: No, everyone gets to ask in order; nobody gets to interrupt people. So look, we’ve seen the Israelis have – at times throughout this conflict, when we’ve talked about particularly the last UNRWA school, there are conflicting reports. They’ve said they’ve done their investigations. There are certain reports coming out from the ground. There are different numbers of casualties. There are just conflicting reports about exactly what was in the school, what happened to it, and the number of casualties.
QUESTION: But Marie, this is becoming --
MS. HARF: But you have to sort out those conflicting reports.
QUESTION: I understand that there’s some – there may be some conflict. But this is becoming a daily ritual. I mean, the Israelis drop leaflets telling the Palestinians to evacuate, they take shelter in these facilities, then they are targeting. Parks are targeted, hospitals are targeted, and all these things are targeted. Pretty soon you’re not going to have any space where they are going to go. Where should they go?
MS. HARF: Look, as I said, the UN has done remarkable work here with really overflowing facilities. So we know this is a huge humanitarian challenge. That’s exactly the reason, Said, we are – the Secretary is working to put in place a humanitarian ceasefire, so we can get medical supplies and food and water to the people of Gaza who are suffering.
QUESTION: And how far along are you with the effort to have a humanitarian ceasefire in place?
MS. HARF: The Secretary is continuing his efforts to see if the parties are willing to agree to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that’ll last long enough for serious negotiations to begin in Cairo and also to get some urgently needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza. So look, this is a proposal we are discussing with the parties. We hopefully need to make a little more progress, but obviously there’s some more work to do, Said.
QUESTION: As you know, the Israelis announced a four-hour humanitarian ceasefire, yet they bombed – aerial bombardment. They continued aerial bombardment, where dozens were killed during that time. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. HARF: Well, what we’re working for is an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire. It takes two parties to agree to that, and we obviously haven’t had that in place yet.
QUESTION: Last week Ambassador Dermer argued before a group of reporters that UN facilities are off limits, unless they believe that there are weapons inside regardless of whether there are people inside. Are the Israelis correct to be making this argument that under the law of war that targeting a facility that is supposed to be neutral ground is, in fact, legal?
MS. HARF: Well, look, we think it’s very important – UN neutrality is a very important principle. I’m not going to make a broader international legal judgment. But we believe that UN facilities are neutral and that people should not be targeted in them.
QUESTION: In light of these repeated shellings on facilities that are supposed to be neutral, given the U.S.’s position as a member of the P5 on the Security Council, has the ambassador or someone from the embassy been called in for more intensive, personal discussions about this incident?
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have any media updates to share about this specific incident, but I can assure you that we’ve been in close contact with Ambassador Dermer, with many senior Israeli officials, including at the Secretary’s level over the past weeks, days, hours, all of the above.
QUESTION: And then one more: You keep saying that we need to sort out the facts on the ground.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Given that we’re talking about two entities that are essentially at war with each other – a government and a terrorist group – whom do you believe if they’re both doing their investigations?
MS. HARF: Well, we attempt to get our own facts, Roz, and that’s why we don’t just take any one person’s word for it. We see what the facts are coming out of the ground. We have a number of ways to do that, including by talking to the parties, but also getting our own information as well, and that’s why we don’t rush to judgment or just make statements before we can back it up.
QUESTION: Are you suggesting that U.S. personnel are inside Gaza doing their own ground assessments?
MS. HARF: I wasn’t suggesting that. I said there’s a variety of ways we can get our own information. I was not suggesting that.
QUESTION: This is a follow. Madam, how can you stop innocent killings in the future at the UN facilities around the globe, not only in this year? Are you talking at the United Nations that they have responsibility to check it out, what they have in their facilities and all that? Because people are – this is not the first incident at the United Nations facilities around the globe. Has been many –
MS. HARF: We – yeah, no, it’s a good question. We certainly talk to the United Nations about this, because, look, they don’t want their facilities targeted either, I think probably more than anyone else. So we talk to them about it. We’ve talked to them about what they should do. We’ve tried – the Secretary General has been very focused on the issue of what they should do if they find rockets in their school. They are making progress there. So again, it’s a very tough operating environment, and we’ll keep working with them.
QUESTION: One more, Marie.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: How do you hold people accountable for these sorts of attacks?
MS. HARF: Well, look, I don’t think – I mean, I understand the question, but what we’re focused on – because of, not just this attack, but others – and what the Secretary is focused on is right now getting a ceasefire in place. We need all of the attacks to stop so we can get humanitarian assistance in, so we can set the groundwork for negotiations in Cairo for a longer ceasefire. So obviously that’s what we’re focused on in the immediate term and that’s what he’s working towards. He’s had another dozen phone calls today on just this issue.
QUESTION: What kind of a system or personnel you have working to determine whether the Israelis are, in fact, deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians?
MS. HARF: Well, Said, we have a –
QUESTION: And should there be a consequence?
MS. HARF: We have a number of ways of looking at – getting the facts on the ground. I just don’t have more on that for you.
QUESTION: Israel says that it’s right –
MS. HARF: And then Margaret. Yeah, go ahead. And then I’ll go to Margaret.
QUESTION: Okay. So Israel has long said that it has the right to self-defense. Of course you’ve echoed that sentiment, and they’ve said this throughout this conflict. And even up until now we have 1,200 people – over 1,200 people that have been killed, thousands more that have been injured. Is there going to be a point where you say this enormous amount of casualties is not justified anymore? I mean will you condemn Israel?
MS. HARF: Look, a lot of what you just said is true, and the first part – I’ll start with the first part, that Israel does have a right to defend itself. If you lived in a city where rockets were coming from terrorists repeatedly, where you had to run to a bomb shelter repeatedly, I think you’d probably feel pretty strongly that Israel has the right to defend itself. We’ve announced again this week additional funding for the Iron Dome system, which does exactly this.
But we have said that in their efforts to fight this threat, they do need to take additional steps to prevent civilian casualties. We know it’s a challenging operating environment. We know it’s very densely populated. We, throughout conflicts we’ve fought in our history, have taken extraordinary steps in Afghanistan, in Iraq to prevent civilian casualties, and we’ve called on the Israelis to do more. So we’re going to continue having the conversation.
QUESTION: I have one more question. Today the Israeli military offered a four-hour humanitarian ceasefire in specific areas of the Gaza strip. Now Hamas dismissed that partial, temporary ceasefire, because they said it didn’t give them enough relief in the areas that they needed in order to collect casualties and so on and so forth. What’s your take on that partial ceasefire?
MS. HARF: Well, what we’re focused on – excuse me, give me one second. What we’re focused on is an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that lasts long enough to allow for serious negotiations to begin in Cairo and for urgently needed humanitarian assistance to get in. So obviously, that’s longer than four hours. So we’re working with the parties on what that might look like.
Sorry – yeah, or go to Margaret first, yeah.
QUESTION: Marie, on a – from a policy perspective, is there any consideration or conversation about making some of the military aid conditional, given that you are calling on Israel to also hold fire and to pull back here?
MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that at all mentioned.
QUESTION: So when you talked about further aid for Iron Dome, that is a defensive system.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But resupplying ammunition, other things are offensive materials. And there are reports that the U.S. is resupplying Israel with ammunition. Is that --
MS. HARF: I can check on the specifics.
QUESTION: -- clear and correct?
MS. HARF: Yeah, let me check with my colleagues at the Department of Defense and see. I just don’t know the answer.
QUESTION: That would seem to be inconsistent with the position of calling on all sides to pull back.
MS. HARF: Let me check on what the facts are here.
QUESTION: Isn’t it – isn’t this a kind of State Department political-military --
MS. HARF: It would be a combination of both, so I’m happy to check.
QUESTION: So apparently, there are 120-millimeter mortar rounds, 40-millimeter ammunition for grenade launchers coming from the Pentagon’s War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel program.
MS. HARF: “Pentagon” being the key word that you just said.
QUESTION: Excuse me?
MS. HARF: “Pentagon” being the key word. I’ll check with the Pentagon --
QUESTION: I know, but it’s a U.S. --
MS. HARF: -- and I’ll check with my --
QUESTION: It’s a State Department decision, I think, though, right?
MS. HARF: I understand that. Let me check and see what the details are.
QUESTION: No, but you are – you’re comfortable sending – resupplying these – this weaponry to the Israelis?
MS. HARF: I don’t even know if that’s happening. I’m happy to check on that.
QUESTION: All right. Can I – you – in the White House statement, and I – sorry, I can’t remember if you actually repeated this part. But it says the U.S. is particularly concerned that Palestinians who have been told by the IDF to leave their homes are going to these UN-designated shelters and they’re not safe.
MS. HARF: Correct, yes. We are extremely concerned that thousands of internally displaced Palestinians who have been called on by the Israeli military to evacuate their homes are not safe in UN-designated shelters in Gaza. This is extremely concerning to us.
QUESTION: Do you – right, it’s extremely concerning, I understand. But why is it that they’re not safe?
MS. HARF: Well, because we’ve seen --
QUESTION: Is it because of the Israelis, or is it because of Hamas?
MS. HARF: Well, I – at a root cause, Matt, look, the reason these civilians are unsafe is because Hamas has had a pattern of hiding weapons, of hiding fighters in these schools. So that – Hamas has put these civilians at risk. Now, we’re still getting the facts about exactly what has happened, and there have been conflicting reports. You can choose not to believe them, but there have been conflicting reports about who has shelled these schools. But clearly, these civilians are at risk.
QUESTION: Well, but if you – if you’re saying that it’s – I’m not sure how you can say that and at the same time – if you say that Hamas is putting these people at risk and you still condemn the shelling, it seems to be – it doesn’t seem to follow logically.
MS. HARF: Why?
QUESTION: Well, because if, in fact, you say that Hamas has put these people at risk, that would suggest that you think that it’s a legitimate target. Am I --
MS. HARF: I’m not saying that at all.
MS. HARF: I’m saying that Hamas’s actions have put people at risk.
QUESTION: And then --
MS. HARF: Doesn’t mean it’s okay for the UN’s neutrality to be violated.
QUESTION: By anybody?
MS. HARF: By anybody.
QUESTION: Right. And then you said – I – go ahead.
QUESTION: I just wanted to take – I wanted to follow up on the efforts, the ongoing efforts for the ceasefire. So yesterday, the Secretary of State – I think the last thing he said, that the Egyptian initiative remains the basis for whatever ceasefire. Does that mean that he’s given up on his ideas? He said we have some ideas that he discussed with the Qataris and the Turks and so on.
MS. HARF: No. Those ideas are part of the conversation, Said.
QUESTION: Okay. So are we going back to what was proposed by Egypt on the 14th of the month? Is that what we’re doing?
MS. HARF: Well, we are talking through a variety of proposals and ideas about what that might look like. Obviously, that’s been a basis for a lot of the discussions.
QUESTION: Okay. So it – let me ask you straight out: So does that mean that the Secretary has discarded his ideas? Because he talked about --
MS. HARF: No. I just said the opposite, Said, that his ideas are very much a part of this conversation.
QUESTION: Okay. No, and let me just clarify what I said. Does that – when he talks about a 24-hour, then a 7-day, then some sort of a discussion to look into these root causes that you mentioned, which is the siege and so on – so that still remains the basis for any ceasefire, correct?
MS. HARF: Said, I’m not going to get into specifics of what the ceasefire might look like. But during this period, obviously, hostilities would stop. So what that looks like is obviously still being worked.
QUESTION: My last question: Back in 2012, basically the agreement included many of these things – opening the crossing, lifting the siege, doing all these things – but Israel did not adhere to it, Hamas did not adhere to it, and so on. Will there be an effort this time around by the United States to guarantee that whatever is agreed upon is implemented?
MS. HARF: Certainly, we hope that whatever is agreed upon is implemented, and we will be working towards that end if we can, in fact, get something in place.
QUESTION: Do you – when you call for the investigation into what happened today, does that extend to the other incidents where UNRWA --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm, certainly.
QUESTION: All right. Who is it that you want to do this investigation? Is it okay if – with you guys if it’s the Israelis alone? Or does there need to be --
MS. HARF: I think there needs --
QUESTION: -- some kind of international component to it?
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have anything specific in terms of a formal investigation, but I think it needs to be broader than just one side here. I think it needs to – obviously, we are undertaking our own information gathering. We talk to the parties, we try and get the facts, but I don’t think it should just be any one party to this.
QUESTION: Okay. So you would not be comfortable, then, with Israel just investigating on its own and coming to some conclusion and – is that correct?
MS. HARF: Well, they’re certainly free to, but I think that we would make our own judgments and not just base our judgments on that.
QUESTION: Also, don’t you think there’s kind of a difference of opinion, regardless of whether – well, I mean, I guess it – if, in fact, it was Israelis that hit the school, that there’s difference of opinions on whether a UN facility is a legitimate target because the Israelis maintain that this is a target because they’re going after these rockets.
MS. HARF: Right. We’ll see what comes out when we look and get the facts here, Elise, but it does seem that sometimes there are – difference of opinions here.
QUESTION: A couple hours after the – this shelling incident, there was another incident in a marketplace which apparently has also killed in the teens of people. Now this was not a UN facility, but it appears from some of the reports and – that the people who – or most of the people who were killed and wounded there were civilians. Is the Administration prepared to condemn an attack like that or is it --
MS. HARF: I actually am not familiar with that specific incident. I’m happy to --
QUESTION: Okay. Well, then, in previous attacks, non – or previous shelling incidents on non-UNRWA facilities where civilians have been killed, is the Administration prepared to retroactively condemn those shelling incidents as well?
MS. HARF: I think --
QUESTION: Because you haven’t thus far. You have, until today --
MS. HARF: Right.
QUESTION: -- said you’re – expressed deep concern and said that you would like the Israelis to do more. But I’m wondering if you’re – if the Administration is prepared to go retroactively since the beginning of this conflict to condemn all incidents where there have been civilian casualties.
MS. HARF: I don’t think I’m going to go that far, Matt. And in part, look, we understand that the Israelis have said they have very high standards. We believe they could do more. But this is unfortunately a conflict zone and sometimes, civilians tragically are injured or killed. That’s why we’ve called on the Israelis to do more to protect them. So I don’t want to make a blanket statement. Again, that’s why the Secretary is so focused on getting a ceasefire in place so it stops on all sides.
QUESTION: Last week, you said after the vote at the Human Rights Commission that the United States was proud to stand with Israel and would, even if it meant standing alone.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: That is still the case today?
MS. HARF: Absolutely.
QUESTION: Well --
QUESTION: And then one – just one – okay.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that particular point?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I understand that this resolution at the UN Human Rights Council was completely one-sided and biased, okay?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So I would understand that you sided with Israel on that --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- and it did not take into account Hamas’s role in this conflict, any discussion of them using – storing weapons in facilities or using human shield, so that’s fine.
But are you saying that no matter whether Israel is right or wrong – I mean, even if they’re 100 percent wrong, are you saying that you would still side with Israel against the international community just because Israel is a good friend?
MS. HARF: I mean, Elise, that’s a huge hypothetical I don’t even know how to begin --
QUESTION: Well, it seems as if a lot of times that you do do that.
MS. HARF: -- I don’t even know how to begin to address. I think we have too often seen in the international community Israel has been singled out, that they --
QUESTION: I agree with you 100 percent.
MS. HARF: And that’s why we have stood by them against that. And so, look, that’s a huge hypothetical I don’t even want to venture to guess. But we have felt that it was important to stand by them in these international fora when this has happened, like we saw last week.
QUESTION: But if the United Nations – and it does look as if at the UN, although they haven’t been able to do anything kind of balanced and fair and insert themselves into the conflict – if the United Nations were to take up some kind of remedy or address or statement that were to condemn both sides or were to take into account the responsibilities of both sides, are you saying that you would sign onto that?
MS. HARF: It’s a good question. I think we have to look at what the language actually said --
QUESTION: Marie --
MS. HARF: -- before we can make a decision.
QUESTION: But I mean, do you think – I mean, clearly, Israel has been singled out by the United Nations more than --
MS. HARF: Multiple – for decades.
QUESTION: -- multiple times over years, yes. But does that absolve them of any type – just because they’ve been singled out, that doesn’t absolve them of any responsibility here?
MS. HARF: No, not at all.
QUESTION: Marie, are you undertaking any independent action to determine whether these allegations of having rockets and ammunition in the schools are true or not?
MS. HARF: Well, as I said, we’re fact-finding and gathering information from a variety of sources.
QUESTION: Are you sending a commission? How are you fact-finding?
MS. HARF: I don’t have anything formal like that to announce or to preview, but again, we’re trying to get more information.
MS. HARF: Anything else on Gaza?
QUESTION: Yeah, one more thing.
MS. HARF: Okay, and then we’ll go to India.
QUESTION: So you believe that all Israel’s assaults on Gaza are justifiable, right? (Inaudible.)
MS. HARF: I have not said that in any way from this podium. You’re putting words in my mouth.
QUESTION: Okay. Like how much of it? Like 90 percent? 95?
MS. HARF: I’m not going to put a percent on it.
MS. HARF: As I’ve said, they have the right to defend themselves, and we’ll look at each incident on its own merits.
QUESTION: Okay. Marie, honestly, like, one could – when they ask you whether the – your own – the argument the United States puts forward is the same argument as Israel, is that it’s doing so in self-defense. So why is it in self-defense? Because Hamas fires rockets, right?
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: Okay. So --
MS. HARF: If you were living in a city where you had to run to your bomb shelter because rockets were --
MS. HARF: I think you’d probably feel like you needed to defend yourself.
QUESTION: But don’t you think --
MS. HARF: I could be wrong.
QUESTION: Don’t you think you should also question the proportionality of the Israeli response? Like --
MS. HARF: Well, as I’ve said, the Israelis need to do more to prevent civilian casualties.
MS. HARF: I think I’ve made that pretty clear.
QUESTION: And, like, thanks to the Iron Dome missiles, like really, Hamas rockets pose almost no real threat to Israel.
MS. HARF: That is a completely false statement. I would be careful --
QUESTION: Inflict relatively low --
MS. HARF: I would be careful making those statements. It’s a dangerous statement to make, actually. Iron Dome has been very successful --
QUESTION: But two civilians have been killed after firing hundreds of missiles – rockets.
MS. HARF: Okay. Let’s be clear, though, Hamas is still a very real threat to Israel.
QUESTION: Two things. First of all, I just want to point out – back on the ammo issue – I mean, the State Department needs to gives its permission to these sales. So if you can just see where – what the U.S. --
MS. HARF: I’ll check, yeah. I really – guys, I really just don’t have the facts here.
MS. HARF: I will check.
QUESTION: And then – I mean, just back to what my colleague was saying. I mean, Iron Dome – that’s something that you did with Israel. I mean, what are – what kind of things is the United States prepared to do or is thinking about, or do you have any ideas on how you can protect Palestinian civilians from both Israel and the residuals --
MS. HARF: And Hamas.
QUESTION: -- actions of Hamas?
MS. HARF: Well, I hate to keep going back to this, but ceasefire’s the best way to do that. And that’s why the Secretary’s putting so much (inaudible).
QUESTION: Yeah, but in the absence of a ceasefire.
MS. HARF: Well, in the absence of a ceasefire, there are going to be a lot of civilians still at risk. So there’s not an option here that’s absent a ceasefire.
But going forward, obviously, one of the reasons the Secretary has worked very hard on issues like Middle East peace, but also here on this specific issue and what a longer-term ceasefire might look like, is because we know there’s a very real ongoing threat from Hamas. And we know that the citizens of Gaza are, unfortunately, put in the middle of this conflict. So that’s why we’re working on a longer-term solution as well.
QUESTION: Are you talking to any of the neighboring countries about perhaps taking in Palestinian civilians as refugees?
MS. HARF: Not that I’ve heard, Elise. I’m happy to check.
QUESTION: Can you check?
QUESTION: In terms of Hamas’s arsenal, Israeli military intelligence estimated that they have at this point fewer than 3,000 rockets. And obviously, because of various other political incidents, they don’t have the same relationships with their suppliers that they used to have. Is there any sense that this conflict could be coming to an end simply because Hamas is running out of ammunition, as it were?
MS. HARF: Well, I can’t confirm those numbers. I just don’t know if they’re true or not. Hamas remains a very real threat, but obviously, it would be the goal, ultimately, that Hamas is no longer able to threaten Israel. But all you have to see is the rockets continuing to fly in to see that it still remains today a very real threat.
QUESTION: Do you know – do you have any reason to doubt the UNRWA version of events?
MS. HARF: We’re still trying to get the facts here, Matt.
QUESTION: That’s great, but that’s not my question. Do you have any reason to doubt their version of events?
MS. HARF: I don’t have a way to answer that yes or no because we don’t have all the facts yet. I – they put out a statement, and I just can’t make a judgment on it.
QUESTION: Can I ask – I have a quick one on Syria, and then --
QUESTION: No, wait.
QUESTION: Oh, sorry. You want to keep --
QUESTION: More on Israel.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Not on this specifically --
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: -- but about the 15-year-old American – Palestinian-American kid who was in – been held. Do you have – is there any update on him?
MS. HARF: No update.
QUESTION: And then I wanted to know more broadly – yesterday, we all saw this purported transcript of the President’s call with Prime Minister Netanyahu, which both the White House and the prime minister’s office --
MS. HARF: One of the craziest things I’ve ever seen, to be frank.
QUESTION: -- denied. Is the Administration concerned at all that there are people in Israel, whether they’re government officials or others, who are trying to hurt the U.S.-Israel relationship, particularly between the Administration of this President and Israel?
MS. HARF: Well, Matt, I think in general over the past few days, it has been really shocking and, I think, frankly disappointing for some of the personal attacks we’ve seen on Secretary Kerry, some of the absurd accusations made about his intentions. And then yesterday, this crazy, completely fabricated transcript that bore no responsibility in any way to reality. So there’s clearly people – I don’t know who and I don’t want to guess, because I’m not in a position to do that – who are putting out false and defamatory and absurd information about our intentions on this side, certainly with Secretary Kerry and the President. So it’s deeply concerning to us and it’s disappointing because everything we have done, whether it’s Iron Dome, whether it’s the hours and hours the Secretary has put into the peace process or even just getting a ceasefire in place has been designed to protect Israel’s security. So whoever it is – I don’t want to guess what their motives are, but it is concerning and it’s disappointing.
QUESTION: All right. Is it also – hold on. Is it also disappointing and upsetting that members of Congress are doing the – are saying the same thing, virtually? I mean, not virtually, they are. They’re saying – in some cases, they’re even more critical than what we have heard from Israel.
MS. HARF: Absolutely. I think it’s disappointing, I think it’s concerning, and I think it’s wrong.
QUESTION: Why do you think that is, that members of Congress are doing that?
MS. HARF: Well --
QUESTION: I mean, Israel we can understand, but why are members of Congress blasting the efforts of the Secretary of State to bring peace to the Middle East?
MS. HARF: I don’t – making a blanket statement here without having seen all of their comments, many members of Congress, I think, like to use Israel as a political issue to try to divide the country, and we have always said Israel and support for Israel should not be a political issue, it should not be a partisan issue, because it’s not. And so I think often it’s used in that context and I think that’s been disappointing. And I don’t want to venture to guess why all of them might be doing this.
QUESTION: Do you think that those actions of what you just said, using Israel as a political tool – does that hamper sometimes your ability to use all the tools in the diplomatic toolbox?
MS. HARF: It’s a good question, Elise. I think a couple points. The first is it certainly hasn’t hampered our efforts to provide unprecedented levels of funding to Israel for its security – again, I keep going back to Iron Dome. But it really was – is a remarkable system that we helped develop and certainly funded.
QUESTION: Well, that’s in support of Israel.
MS. HARF: Exactly.
QUESTION: I’m saying --
MS. HARF: Exactly.
QUESTION: Do you --
MS. HARF: So it hasn’t hampered that.
QUESTION: But has it hampered you from being able to kind of give Israel any – the kind of tough messages or tough policy options that you might have because Congress is such a keen supporter of Israel?
MS. HARF: No. I mean, I actually – I don’t think so. I think we’ve been very clear with the Israelis when there are issues and when we have concerns; when we raise them, we do so privately. But I think we’ve been very clear about that. And look, I think the partisan noise you hear sometimes back in Washington, the Secretary is certainly familiar with that kind of partisan noise and I think is really able to tune it out.
QUESTION: Is it really partisan, though? It seems like --
MS. HARF: Much of it is quite partisan.
QUESTION: But – no, no. But what I’m saying is --
MS. HARF: Or political in nature.
QUESTION: It’s political but it’s not partisan, because both sides of the aisle --
MS. HARF: It’s often – check it out, but it is often fairly partisan.
QUESTION: What, are you saying that, like, people in Congress are trying to compete for who’s more pro-Israel? (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: I think that many of the criticisms this Administration gets both on our policy towards and in general on foreign policy tends to come from the other side of the aisle.
QUESTION: Well, going back to motives, given the stratospheric poll ratings that the Netanyahu Government is getting right now, couldn’t it be argued, as some Israeli analysts have, that a lot of this criticism is being done for domestic political consumption? And if so, why shouldn’t this Administration just ignore it?
MS. HARF: Well, as I just said, I think that a lot of the rhetoric, unfortunately, in this country about Israel is done for political and for partisan reasons. The Secretary’s not focused on that. He’s focused on what’s best for the security of Israel and how we can get a ceasefire in place.
QUESTION: But that was suggested in reference to the U.S. Congress. This isn’t in reference to the Israeli body politic.
MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I don’t understand your question.
QUESTION: Is that the same – are you making the same point that some of this criticism, some of these leaks, some of these whispers in the Israeli press and to the U.S. press, frankly, is designed to boost Netanyahu’s hold on power?
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t want to guess about that kind of political intention, but I do – what else can you assume from a completely fabricated, quote, “transcript” that in no way resembled reality that was leaked to an Israeli news outlet? I don’t know what else you can assume about the intentions, except that they’re designed to hurt our relationship. Now, I don’t know towards what end. I don’t know who did it. But I don’t know what other conclusion you can draw from that, what other conclusion you can draw from respected voices in Israel talking about the Secretary of State, claiming he supports Hamas, which is offensive and absurd. I think --
QUESTION: Do you think that this is coming from the – I’m sorry. Sorry, Roz.
MS. HARF: No, it’s okay.
QUESTION: Do you think that this is coming just from the press and, like, Israeli citizens? This is coming from Israeli officials that are speaking on background.
MS. HARF: I don’t know where it’s – I don’t – well --
QUESTION: Yes, it’s in the article --
MS. HARF: I leave it to you all to determine who your sources are.
QUESTION: It’s in the article saying that these sources are coming from – this is criticism of the Israeli Government that’s being planted in the Israeli press. Have you talked to the Israelis about it?
MS. HARF: Well – and I would say that kind of criticism coming from any ally, certainly Israel, just really has no place in this discussion. You also heard Ambassador Dermer out this morning on TV talking about – actually condemning some of this criticism as well.
QUESTION: Well, that was after three days of negative articles about how John Kerry is – a strategic terrorist attack.
MS. HARF: Well – and I think, quite frankly, that those articles, whoever puts that out there – I mean, it’s just – it’s so disappointing to all of us.
QUESTION: Does that hurt equally, like burn even particularly more considering the, like, unequivocal support that you’ve given Israel, especially considering what we talked about at the UN, that kind of – that you stand --
MS. HARF: Absolutely.
QUESTION: -- that you stood with Israel alone in the international community?
MS. HARF: Absolutely, that the level of support this Administration has given Israel has been, quite frankly, unprecedented in our history, that we have stood by them even when we stood alone, even in very tough times, and we are proud to do so. I think that – and the Secretary – the hours all of us have spent with the Secretary in Jerusalem in trying to get Middle East peace, trying to work to protect Israel’s security – I think that’s why it’s so disappointing, that it’s just so at odds with reality, and quite frankly, just flies in the face of everything we’ve been trying to do.
QUESTION: Marie, you just said that – again, that you’re – you stand with Israel and, quote, “We are proud to do so.”
MS. HARF: We are.
QUESTION: Even after an incident like today which you have condemned without blame, but even after calling – saying that Israel has not lived up to its own high standards, you’re --
MS. HARF: Both can be true.
QUESTION: Okay. And you’re comfortable with Israel not living up to its own high standards?
MS. HARF: I didn’t say that.
QUESTION: But using weaponry that’s been supplied by the United States, is that correct?
MS. HARF: We have a very broad relationship with Israel to help it defend itself. I will check on the specifics about the resupply. But yes, we are very committed to their security.
MS. HARF: That’s why these vicious attacks on the Secretary are just crazy.
QUESTION: Right. Well, it’s one thing to be very committed to their security, but it’s another thing to stand silent when, even if it’s accidental --
MS. HARF: I think I’ve been anything but silent on (inaudible), by definition.
QUESTION: Well, no, no, no. Even when it’s accidental, that when there are these large numbers of civilian casualties, right? I mean --
MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t been silent on civilian casualties.
QUESTION: Well, but you have made a specific point that you’re not condemning Israel for this latest incident.
MS. HARF: Because we aren’t sure of the facts here.
QUESTION: Right, okay. Now, listen, I – when I mentioned the call, I wasn’t trying to get into this whole political thing. I wanted to actually talk about --
MS. HARF: That’s fine.
QUESTION: -- in the call and – but more specifically, Secretary Kerry has had presumably similar conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and that was what I want to get into.
MS. HARF: Well, not similar, because that had no --
QUESTION: No, no. I mean whatever --
MS. HARF: Phone conversations.
QUESTION: The real conversation --
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: -- between the President and the prime minister, presumably Secretary Kerry has had similar conversations to that.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: This faux transcript, you say, talks about how Qatar and Turkey need to be interlocutors in bringing Hamas to the table. Whether or not the transcript is false or not, that is something that the United States agrees with, right? I mean --
MS. HARF: But I want to make very – no, but this – I don’t want to actually tee off of this transcript to ask substantive questions because it is so ridiculous.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, then, let me put it this way. All right.
MS. HARF: Let’s just ask the questions aside from the transcript.
QUESTION: Forget about the transcript.
MS. HARF: Okay, thank you.
QUESTION: (Laughter.) Do you believe that the cooperation or help of Turkey and Qatar is going to be – is key, is critical --
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: -- to getting Hamas on board with the ceasefire?
MS. HARF: Yes, and the Secretary has spoken to the Qatari foreign minister three times today, also to the Turkish foreign minister as well, and numerous times over the past week.
QUESTION: Okay. Is it not a fact that Israel has expressed reservations about involving both the Turks and the Qataris in this process, and has said that they think that the Egyptian – that it undercuts both them and the Egyptians?
MS. HARF: Well, we believe – excuse me – obviously, the Egyptians are leading here. That’s why we’re talking about bringing people to Cairo for a negotiation. But the fact is it takes two to have a ceasefire, and we need to get Hamas to yes here.
MS. HARF: And there aren’t that many people that have influence with Hamas.
QUESTION: So it is correct, in your – in the Secretary’s conversations with the Israelis that he has said or made the case that Israel really isn’t in a position here to be able to choose who it wants to mediate, because who --
MS. HARF: That’s not the tone of the conversation, Matt.
QUESTION: Oh, I’m not – I didn’t – don’t think I ascribed any tone to it at all. I’m being very --
MS. HARF: Well, what you --
QUESTION: I’m trying to do it flat and monotone, without any --
MS. HARF: That – well, that was a – that had a – that was not a flat statement.
QUESTION: Let me put it this way: Has the United States told Israel that it cannot choose who it wants to mediate or to be involved on – in bringing Hamas on board?
MS. HARF: That’s not how I would describe the conversation. To be clear, the – so I’m saying no. The Israelis are supportive of our efforts here.
QUESTION: Not to bringing in Turkey and --
MS. HARF: To get a ceasefire, and they’re supportive in general of the way we are going about doing that.
QUESTION: Yesterday, the Secretary said that Prime Minister Netanyahu had – himself had asked him to arrange a humanitarian ceasefire.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Officials in the prime minister’s office say that just isn’t true.
MS. HARF: Well, I think I’m going to stick with my boss and what he said.
QUESTION: So when you say that Israel is supportive of your efforts to date, what’s the evidence for that?
MS. HARF: Well, the Secretary has been in close communication with them over many, many days, and they’re working very closely with us on what a ceasefire might look like. So they’re clearly part of this process, and they are working with us to try to get everyone to yes here.
QUESTION: Well, the – I – okay. But the problem is that the other thing the Secretary said was that the prime --
MS. HARF: They’re engaged actively in the process with the Secretary.
QUESTION: But he’s – but the prime – but the Secretary said that he was working, he was doing this, and the President – President Obama – was supporting him in doing this because of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s, quote, “commitment” to a ceasefire. And then he said that that’s what he has – he’s going to take that at face value, but if they’re something – if – he talked about somebody playing a game here. Is that possible? Do you think that the Israelis could be saying – telling him one thing privately, and then saying something – whispering something else completely different behind his back?
MS. HARF: I think that the Israeli Government is very focused at a number of levels with working with the – on working with the Secretary to get a ceasefire here.
MS. HARF: I think that.
QUESTION: Now, I know you don’t want to talk about the alleged transcript, but --
MS. HARF: I’ll talk about it.
MS. HARF: Because it’s complete crap.
QUESTION: One of the things was – (laughter) – complete crap?
MS. HARF: Technical term: complete crap.
QUESTION: That’s a diplomatic term?
MS. HARF: Yeah, use that technical term there. (Laughter.) It is.
QUESTION: In it, the President is – the President was quoted as saying that he --
MS. HARF: The transcript of the call between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the President.
QUESTION: -- that he was – said that he trusts Turkey and Qatar to be honest brokers in this --
MS. HARF: Why are you going back to a totally false transcript?
QUESTION: Well, I want to know – I just want to know, it raises the question: Does the Administration believe that Turkey and Qatar are honest brokers, that they are able – that they can do this job and that they deserve to be trusted? I mean, the Israelis have reason to be very suspicious of Turkey.
MS. HARF: It’s not about trust. It’s really not about trust.
QUESTION: Well, okay.
MS. HARF: It’s not. And we have spoken out, to be fair, when Turkey has made some comments – leaders in Turkey –
MS. HARF: -- about how that diminishes their ability to play a role here. So we have spoken out about that over the past days and weeks. But --
QUESTION: Okay. But then why are you relying on them so heavily if their role has been diminished?
MS. HARF: We’re not relying on them. The Egyptians have the lead in this process here. But look, there are only a number of countries that have any influence with Hamas, and we need to get them to yes to have a ceasefire. Does that mean we talk to the Turks and the Qataris? It’s not about trust; it’s about getting a terrorist organization to agree to a ceasefire. That’s a complicated thing to do.
QUESTION: Well, it’s also about them being a productive actor. I mean, if you’re going to Qatar, and Qatar is holding out and urging Hamas not to take a ceasefire because it thinks it can get more things, then maybe that’s not – I think what Israel is maintaining is that Qatar is not only acting as a conduit and a kind of liaison or intermediary with Hamas, but is trying to get the most for – to – is a friend of Hamas --
MS. HARF: No, I understand the question.
QUESTION: -- is basically there’s no difference, that they maintain, negotiating with Hamas or negotiating with Qatar.
MS. HARF: Well, I would strongly disagree with that. And look, I do think we believe the Egyptians, the UN, our other partners are working on this to get to a ceasefire. We do believe that the partners we’re working with want to get to a ceasefire. And what that looks like is obviously something that’s, at the end of the day, up to the two sides here. But we have put ideas on the table. I think we’ve made some progress, but again, not enough yet clearly.
Any more on Gaza?
MS. HARF: Yeah, and then we’ll move on. Oh, yeah.
QUESTION: On your humanitarian aid.
MS. HARF: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s do Syria.
QUESTION: This is a lot of money.
MS. HARF: Yes, it is.
QUESTION: And I understand you did a small breakdown of, like, where it’s going in terms of location. But it is a lot of money, and I mean, are you concerned – could you break down a little bit who it’s going through? Because there is a serious concern that this money, in such large quantities, could fall into the wrong hands and a lot of it would disappear.
MS. HARF: Well, it’s part of the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2165.
QUESTION: So is it a UN appeal?
MS. HARF: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Is it a UN appeal?
MS. HARF: Well, it’s part of the full implementation. It’s not – it’s a little bit separate from it as well. Let me see if there’s more specifics about what NGOs and what specifically at the UN this is going to, Elise. We put out a Fact Sheet, but I’m not sure it’s in --
QUESTION: Yeah, I don’t think that really addressed it.
MS. HARF: Okay, I can – I’ll check.
QUESTION: But I mean, I would assume some of it’s going to UN organizations like UNHCR and all that stuff.
MS. HARF: Correct. And we --
QUESTION: But I wouldn’t --
MS. HARF: -- vet people and, like, when we give it to NGOs we vet them very thoroughly.
QUESTION: Right, right. Yeah, but if you could do more of a breakdown of that.
MS. HARF: Let me see what I can get to you.
QUESTION: Yes, please.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah? Could you talk --
MS. HARF: And then we’ll go to India, I promise.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Jen talked about precautions that are being made. Could you talk about precautions? There are some reports that an American medical worker is being – is either contracted with, quarantined. I don’t know if they have the disease but – or has been in contact with someone, is being evacuated. Have you talked to the – have you contacted people on this victim who has died on this person’s plane? Like how – what’s going on?
MS. HARF: So let me just give a few facts. And I think Jen did some of this yesterday, but obviously we’ve confirmed that a U.S. citizen died in Nigeria after contracting the virus in Liberia. He had traveled to Nigeria while infected with the virus. Embassy Abuja officials have been informed of the case and are working with local authorities.
At least two additional United States citizens have been infected. Due to privacy considerations, can’t provide more information about who those two are. We have – so the U.S. missions in the affected areas have distributed messages to U.S. citizens regarding the Ebola attack and those missions are closely monitoring the situation, continue to keep American citizens informed of what’s happening.
In terms of the CDC, who we’ve been working very closely with, we the State Department, the CDC has stated there’s no significant risk in the United States from the current Ebola outbreak. Obviously they’ve put out some information to travelers about how they could possibly come in contact with Ebola. Healthcare providers are – who have come in contact with patients or were in close contact with ill people are at the highest risk for this. But they have put out some sort of things to watch out for as well.
QUESTION: Are you going to have any specific Ebola-related meetings at the Africa summit, considering so many of those countries are affected?
MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge, Elise, but I am obviously happy to check. But not to my knowledge. That’s obviously focused on other issues.
MS. HARF: And multiple government agencies in the U.S., including USAID, HHS, as I said, CDC, State, Department of Defense, and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases are all helping the WHO and other partner countries in trying to contain this.
QUESTION: Who’s – which agency has the lead on all this? Is that --
MS. HARF: In the U.S. or internationally?
QUESTION: In the U.S.
MS. HARF: I would guess the CDC does, but I’m happy to – there’s a lot of different parts to it.
QUESTION: Now, I don’t know if you’re the agency that does that, but do you know how many fellow passengers of this Patrick Sawyer have been contacted, how many people outside of the plane that he had contact have been reached?
MS. HARF: I don’t know. I’m happy to check. And also, I would just go back again, just a little health lesson for all of us here – just give me one second.
QUESTION: Do you know if the airline has handed over their manifest?
MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t know that, Elsie. According to the CDC, travelers become infected – could become infected if they come into contact with blood or other body fluids from someone who is sick or has died. It’s not – you can’t just be in the room with someone and contract Ebola.
QUESTION: Yeah, but a plane is like a festering cesspool of germs. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: I’m sure our aviation industry would love to hear that. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Given that I know – I speak from experience. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: Again, I’m not sure what your plane experiences have been like, but in order to become infected – (laughter) --
QUESTION: The same as yours.
MS. HARF: -- you would have to come into contact, again, with bodily fluids or with blood, which is why healthcare workers are, unfortunately, some of the most at risk here.
QUESTION: Marie, the country of Liberia had quarantined some workers and closed schools in certain areas. Is there an advisory to American citizens in that country right now, or one that you plan to issue anytime soon?
MS. HARF: We have – the CDC actually is the medical authority who puts out travel information to people on communicable diseases. We include that information in our travel information on our website if it is important to do so. Let me – I don’t have anything other than that in terms of any individual country’s decisions regarding treating this disease.
QUESTION: Is there any reason to believe that other U.S. agency workers may have been exposed? I believe the two that we just confirmed were from the Peace Corps.
MS. HARF: I don’t have that confirmed that they’re from the Peace Corps, so let me – I’m not sure that’s true. So let me check on that.
MS. HARF: I know – look, we’re talking to a lot of people about this, people that have – particularly healthcare workers in these countries, in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, are very, very focused on it. We are working closely with them, as is the CDC and others. So --
QUESTION: But wouldn’t the – tell me if this is wrong. Wouldn’t the U.S. Embassy be somewhat in a leadership role here, given chief of mission status?
MS. HARF: Correct. Well, so – not chief of mission status, but of course the U.S. embassy in any country is where private citizens, particularly a lot of --
MS. HARF: -- I think these are all private citizens. To my knowledge, no USG, but I can check on that – would go for information about health incidents like this. Obviously they would be the ones that would be the lead for American citizens.
QUESTION: And would – there have been some reports that there is some consideration of removing Americans, whether they be U.S. Government workers or Americans generally, from the area where these infections are believed to have happened.
MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that, but let me check on that and see if there’s any truth behind that. Anything else on this?
QUESTION: And also on Ebola --
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Sorry. If folks are coming back from these countries, are there any screening processes in place for --
MS. HARF: Additional screening?
MS. HARF: I think that would probably be a question for Customs and Border Patrol or DHS, but I’m happy to see if there’s information I can share.
QUESTION: And if in fact CDC does change its travel advisories, warnings, whatever --
MS. HARF: Information.
QUESTION: -- would the State Department then, as a result, change its travel warnings as well?
MS. HARF: Well, we don’t have travel warnings in place for these countries, at least any – or some of them or all of them, to my knowledge. We would update information on our country-specific webpages that we have, so when you are traveling to any country, you can go online and look at a webpage even if there’s no travel warning in place. We would obviously evaluate the information, definitely put it on our website, and take any other appropriate steps.
MS. HARF: Actually, I’m going to go to India. I promised.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam --
MS. HARF: The Secretary’s there.
QUESTION: -- as far as this – thank you.
MS. HARF: Big trip.
QUESTION: As far as this historic visit of the Secretary to India --
MS. HARF: It is, it is.
QUESTION: -- is concerned, this will be the first time for the Secretary and his team to meet and greet the new government officials, including Prime Minister Modi, I believe.
MS. HARF: Absolutely.
QUESTION: And madam, one, what would be the – from the past government to this new government when U.S. and India had a Strategic Dialogue in the past with the Congress government and now BJP Modi government. And what are we expecting from this dialogue?
MS. HARF: So a few preview issues, and then I’m sure we’ll talk about it more over the coming days. There are some specific areas of focus that the Strategic Dialogue – that are aligned with the priorities of India’s new government, including expanding India’s infrastructure; sharing best practices in manufacturing, training, and education; creating a business climate open to global investment; and expanding our already robust cooperation in clean energy, including further cooperation on civilian nuclear power and renewable energy sources as well, a lot of issues on the table here to discuss over the coming days.
QUESTION: That includes India’s membership in the UN Security Council?
MS. HARF: I’m sure the whole host of issues will be discussed.
QUESTION: And second, if I may: What message do you have for the lobbyist in the U.S. – there is a lobbyist now in the U.S. who wants to block Prime Minister Modi’s visit to India, and these are the same lobbyists --
MS. HARF: To the United States, you mean?
QUESTION: Yeah. These are the same lobbyists in the U.S. who had lobbied against Mr. Modi’s visa to the U.S.
MS. HARF: Well, the President and the Secretary have made clear they look forward to welcoming Mr. Modi to Washington this fall.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: On the same subject.
MS. HARF: I have no doubt it will be a topic that comes up. I don’t have anything specific to preview.
QUESTION: And also, related to that, there was Eid al-Fitr in the last couple of days. But in the disputed Kashmir region, which is in India’s control, almost all opposition leaders were put on house arrest and they were barred from saying Eid prayers. What is your --
MS. HARF: I hadn’t seen that. Let me check on that, and we’ll get you a response.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm, sure.
QUESTION: Close to a hundred militants from across Afghanistan border – they attacked a military check-post today in Pakistan’s tribal areas on the border. Pakistan was able to repel that attack and also lodged a protest. What are you doing to assist Afghanistan from misuse of its soil by anti-Pakistan militants who have fled from Pakistan and have taken refuge in Afghanistan now and are carrying out attacks against Pakistan?
MS. HARF: Well, I hadn’t seen those reports from today. But clearly, we’ve worked over many years with the Afghan Government on the threat inside their country that it poses not just to other countries in the region, but to the United States troops that remain there, so – and to the Afghan Government and people, most importantly. So we’ve worked with them very closely, and we’ll continue to.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on this same, India, you said that one of the points was a civilian nuclear deal. Who is the expert in the Secretary’s team who has gone along to sort out this? Because there is --
MS. HARF: Work on – who works on energy issues?
QUESTION: Yes, please.
MS. HARF: Let me check. I don’t have the full delegation list in front of me. I can check for you.
QUESTION: One more Ebola question.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: Does the Peace Corps still have volunteers in that area?
MS. HARF: I can check.
QUESTION: Because, I mean, I would think that that could help in getting people out pretty quickly.
MS. HARF: I can check.
QUESTION: They’re pretty --
QUESTION: Just a --
QUESTION: -- a couple of questions on the Kurdish oil tanker?
MS. HARF: Let’s go to Ukraine first.
MS. HARF: And then we’ll go to the oil tanker.
QUESTION: You expressed concern – more than concern, you condemned the shelling of the UNRWA school in Gaza. I’m wondering if you’re willing to condemn civilian casualties in Ukraine committed by both the separatists and the Ukrainian military.
MS. HARF: Well, we could condemn civilian casualties wherever they take place. But obviously, we have to look at every individual incident.
QUESTION: Have you now – yesterday, when Jen was asked about this, she said that there were reports, but you couldn’t confirm them, of the Ukrainian military using artillery and heavy – in Donetsk in heavily-populated --
QUESTION: Short-range missiles.
QUESTION: So, yeah.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. So on that, the Ukrainians have a responsibility to protect their citizens in their own country. The weapons cited in these reports are a standard artillery component in former Soviet militaries. We’re certainly not going to tell the Ukrainians they can’t use standard weaponry, particularly when they’re coming under such fire, but as with the use of all weapon systems in this conflict, it is imperative that the Ukrainians continue to exercise as much care as possible to protect innocent lives, and of course, the reason there is all of this instability is because of Russia’s actions here.
QUESTION: Are you concerned at all that, as you have said with Israel, that they are not living up to their own high standards? Are you – do you have the same concerns in Ukraine, that the Ukrainian military is not doing enough to prevent civilian casualties?
MS. HARF: Well, look, we are going to also hold them to their commitments on – particularly with – when we talk about exclusion zones, right, when we’ve talked about ceasefires, but also in protecting civilian casualties, we’ve seen them exercise extraordinary restraint in the face of incredible opposition from the Russians, and we’ll continue working with them.
QUESTION: Okay, when you say the Ukrainians have a responsibility to protect their citizens in their own country, does that apply to all Ukrainians, all people in Ukrainian soil?
MS. HARF: What – I don’t understand the crux of your question.
QUESTION: Well, it just seems to me that if they’re firing artillery or, what – or these rockets or missiles into civilian apartment buildings, including one that’s holding – housing an old folks home, basically, that those people who are getting hit and killed and wounded are – the Ukrainian Government also has the responsibility to protect them as well, correct?
MS. HARF: That’s correct. I can’t confirm reports about what this artillery hit. There are, again, a variety of reports out there. We’re still trying to get a little more clarity on that.
QUESTION: Okay. And then on the sanctions that were imposed --
MS. HARF: Yes. We announced more sanctions yesterday.
QUESTION: Correct. I know that it is probably too early to tell if these are going to be the tipping point, if this is what’s finally going to get the Russians to change their calculus, but I’m wondering, given the fact that this morning the Russian official – the Russian Government’s response has been very dismissive, to say the least, if you have any realistic expectation that this going – that these – that this latest round is actually going to do what you say you want it to do.
MS. HARF: Well, I mean, the point here is to continue upping the pressure and increasingly squeezing them economically so that President Putin will make the right decision here. But if he doesn’t, we will continue putting the pressure him. I mean, look, the fact that even before yesterday, nearly $100 billion in capital was expected to flee Russia, at some point I think the Russian citizens are going to be pretty unhappy that because of his actions in the region and other countries, their economy is tanking. So that’s what it’s designed to do and we’ll keep upping the pressure. These are key sectors yesterday – the firms in these sectors really want access to the U.S., really want access to the EU, and are going to feel the pressure.
QUESTION: So you – so that means the intent of these sanctions is to, using your words, tank the Russian economy?
MS. HARF: The purpose of these sanctions is to put enough pressure on the Russian Government that eventually President Putin will change his calculation.
MS. HARF: But if he doesn’t, he is going to face a situation where the people of his country who’ve worked so hard to be part of the international community won’t be.
QUESTION: Because --
MS. HARF: And he can face those consequences.
QUESTION: Because you – because your sanctions have affected them?
MS. HARF: Have very negatively affected the Russian economy, which will affect them.
QUESTION: So in fact, you’re saying that the goal here is to make it painful on the Russian people?
MS. HARF: Not at all.
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
MS. HARF: That is not what I said, Matt.
QUESTION: All right, well it seems like that’s what you’re saying.
MS. HARF: The goal – I will repeat it for you yet again --
MS. HARF: -- is to put enough pressure on the Russian Government that they change their calculation and do different things in the future.
QUESTION: Has the --
MS. HARF: Part of how that happens is the people of Russia say, look, I don’t want to not have access to the international financial system because President Putin is off trying to invade other countries. That’s part of what can affect a leader’s calculation, which I know you’re very well aware of.
QUESTION: Yeah – excuse me – yes, I am. But is the goal right now then to drive the Russian economy into recession?
MS. HARF: No.
QUESTION: Because a lot of people say that that’s what --
MS. HARF: The goal is to pressure the Russian Government to change their behavior.
QUESTION: Have you come to the conclusion that getting to that point would – will require putting – driving the Russian economy into recession?
MS. HARF: No. That’s too simplistic. What we’ve always said is the longer sanctions are in place, the more impact they have, and we want that to change their calculations.
QUESTION: The President yesterday was asked if this is a new cold war. He said, no, this is a very specific set of circumstances. But whether or not it is or isn’t a cold war or a new cold war, it certainly looks like an economic war. Whether “war” is the right term or not, you are trying to negatively affect the Russian economy to put pressure on the government. How is that not an economic war? How is that not a new East-West, since the Russians are – I mean, since the Europeans are onboard with you too, how is that not a new East-West --
MS. HARF: Well, we put sanctions on a number of countries.
QUESTION: -- conflict?
MS. HARF: This is a tool we use all across the globe.
QUESTION: I understand that, but this is --
MS. HARF: It’s not specific --
QUESTION: -- intentionally --
MS. HARF: This isn’t an east-west issue.
QUESTION: Okay, well, you know you put sanctions on the Venezuelans. You just announced that this morning.
MS. HARF: Those aren’t sanctions technically.
QUESTION: Well, they’re travel bans. They’re punishments.
MS. HARF: But technically they’re not sanctions.
QUESTION: Those do not affect – fair enough.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: Whatever, but they are steps. They are measures that you take to show your displeasure. That’s what you’re doing with these sanctions as well. The travel bans and visa bans on people do not impact entire economies; they impact targeted – specific, targeted individuals. Your – the sanctions that you guys and the Europeans have put in place are intended to affect a broad swath of Russia’s economy.
MS. HARF: Right. But it’s not about east-west. We’ve also done that in Iran. We’ve done it in North Korea. We’ve done it elsewhere. It doesn’t have anything to do with east-west or some weird Cold War –
QUESTION: So you’re at war with --
MS. HARF: -- throwback that President Putin wants to somehow, like, return to.
QUESTION: Okay, so you’re not just in a – you’re not just at war with – an economic war with Russia; you’re also in an economic war with Iran, with North Korea, with all these countries --
MS. HARF: No. We believe that sanctions are an incredibly effective and important tool to – that can impel countries to change their behavior.
QUESTION: But you would also admit that thus far your sanctions have not changed the Russians’ behavior, correct?
MS. HARF: Well, that’s – and I’ve also said last week that we don’t know what they would have done if we hadn’t. So --
QUESTION: Yeah, but I mean just to kind of broaden it out, I mean you saw that the – I’m sorry if you missed it and I was just checked out for a minute, but did you see the tweet of the --
MS. HARF: Maybe that happened to me, too.
QUESTION: -- member of parliament that said that President Obama is sparking a new – is going to be the president that goes down in history as starting a new cold war?
MS. HARF: We’re not the country that invaded another country.
QUESTION: Right, but I mean if you --
MS. HARF: I mean our actions are in response to actions --
QUESTION: I understand, but --
MS. HARF: -- the Russian Government took.
QUESTION: -- if you’re taking it on the totality, okay, you have these sanctions, you have these other measures that you’ve kicked Russia out of the G-8 for now, you’ve stopped a lot – most of the political cooperation at NATO, you --
MS. HARF: Well --
QUESTION: Let me finish. You put this violation that – you slapped them with a violation for their arms treaty. I mean, you can see from the Russian point of view that you are interested in kind of fueling a renewal of the Cold War where it’s like --
MS. HARF: Not at all.
QUESTION: -- the world against Russia.
MS. HARF: No, not at all. And look, first, it’s not just about us; it’s about the EU, it’s about the rest of the world standing up and saying --
QUESTION: I mean not just you, but that there is a new cold war in effect.
MS. HARF: Well, no, because the – this is a very limited set of circumstances, not a broad, ideological, decades-long conflict that we saw during the Cold War. This is in response to specific Russian Government actions that – by invading another country. It is about --
QUESTION: But you don’t think it’s a broad – it may be not a decades-long ideological war, but it does seem to be an ideological war over how Russia views its role in the world and how --
MS. HARF: Whether you can invade other countries?
QUESTION: Well, no, just about Russia’s role in that region versus how you view it.
MS. HARF: Well, look, what we have said is everything we’ve done – if Russia hadn’t invaded Ukraine, none of this would be happening. So I think that’s the only proof point you need here. President Obama very clearly said yesterday this actually isn’t what we wanted. This is not the kind of relationship we wanted, but we’re also not going to stand by and let Russia do this and get away with it.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up, madam, thank you.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: As far as these sanctions are concerned, if the countries doing business with Russia, like India – they have a business relations and commercial relations and all that, is going to affect?
MS. HARF: I can check on that. Obviously, these are unilateral sanctions we put in place for the U.S. I can check on other impacts they may have.
QUESTION: And finally, if this is going to be discussed during Secretary’s visit in India?
MS. HARF: I can check, but I can imagine it would probably come up, but it’s not really the focus.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Can I --
QUESTION: Excuse me --
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Snowden’s one-year asylum expires tomorrow.
MS. HARF: You’re asking the question again, today.
QUESTION: And he’s applied for an extension. Have you had any discussions with them recently about that?
MS. HARF: I’m happy to check. Not to my knowledge, but --
QUESTION: The tanker, please.
MS. HARF: Let’s go to Scott, actually. He hasn’t had a question yet. Then we’ll do the tanker. I’m going to go – I’m going to get to everyone.
MS. HARF: I’m going to get to everyone. I’m going to go to Scott first, and then I’m going to go around the room.
QUESTION: On Russia.
MS. HARF: Thank you.
QUESTION: The UN register of conventional weapons says that the Russians are selling more weapons to Azerbaijan. You should have it in your book. I submitted it.
MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I don’t. That’s on us if you submitted it. That’s on us. We’ll get you something.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Yes, Russia.
QUESTION: Yes, talking about sanctions and visa restrictions. Unfortunately, in Russia, there is a mispresentation in recent days about total failure of U.S. visa system, and Russian citizen decided it’s a kind of new restriction for Russian citizens who want travel United States. Could you just explain what happened to U.S. visa restriction?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: It’s not measure against Russia; it’s global?
MS. HARF: No, there is a – as we’ve talked about a little here, we’ve had some global issues across the globe, not in any one country, with our visa processing system. It’s the computer system. This is not anything to do with Russia.
QUESTION: Do you know the reasons, could be cyber attack?
MS. HARF: No.
QUESTION: Why technical failure?
MS. HARF: It’s not. So here: Our system was experiencing intermittent performance issues for several months leading up to July 20th, when we patched it to try and address the issues. Our Bureau of Consular Affairs updated the software, as had been recommended by the company. However, our database began experiencing performance issues shortly after maintenance was performed. We believe the root cause of the problem was a combination of software optimization and hardware compatibility issues. And if you know what that means, you can come up here and answer, but we believe there was no malicious intent. It’s a hardware and a software issue that we are working to fix.
QUESTION: And --
QUESTION: Well, that was pretty much the answer you gave when I first asked this question last week.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is there anything new?
MS. HARF: No, still working on it.
QUESTION: So it’s still a mess?
MS. HARF: Well, they are making progress on restoring the system to full functionality. We anticipate it may take some time before we’ve processed all of the pending cases created by the performance issues.
QUESTION: Do you – does anyone have an idea of how big the backlog is right now and how --
MS. HARF: Let me see if I have a number. I don’t seem to have a number. I am happy to check. We may not actually have one, but we probably do. Let me check on that.
QUESTION: Marie, I don't know if you have this level of specificity, but are these problems being worked on country by country where you’ll have things with Russia back to normal, and then following --
MS. HARF: That’s not how the systems works. Yeah, it’s --
QUESTION: I understand, but yeah, do you --
MS. HARF: Okay. Well --
QUESTION: Yeah. Or --
MS. HARF: Your question implied that you understood.
QUESTION: Can you explain?
MS. HARF: Uh-huh. So basically, there’s servers that fuel how this whole process works, and we’re getting servers back online. They’re just operating now. Basically, things come in in a queue. They come in by dates and time, and we are working now through the queue. Obviously, there’s actually a huge crush right now because of the Africa Leaders Summit, so obviously that’s a huge priority for us to make sure everybody gets their visas for the Africa Leaders Summit. We do believe that a vast majority of the travelers who have applied for visas for the summit have been issued. We’re working with countries on that, but we’re not fixing it on a country-by-country basis. It’s really how you come into the queue. There are all main servers located here, so it’s not country by country.
QUESTION: Wait a second. They’re just still getting visas? Doesn’t it start, like, tomorrow, or is it next week?
MS. HARF: We’re still working on it.
QUESTION: When does it start?
MS. HARF: Next week.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Oil tanker.
QUESTION: Oh, sorry.
MS. HARF: I promised.
MS. HARF: If it came into U.S. territorial waters.
QUESTION: Yes. Hours later, he – she issued a ruling. She didn’t say that. She said, “Seize it.” And then hours later, she held up --
MS. HARF: She clarified.
QUESTION: -- a surprising conference saying that, “Well, my ruling is not enforceable.” I would like to know whether any pressure had been exerted on her to make that announcement.
MS. HARF: No, this is a crazy question. No, the ship is not in U.S. territorial waters. So the judge --
QUESTION: But why did she issue a ruling while it’s not enforceable?
MS. HARF: The magistrate judge ordered the cargo to be attached and held pending the resolution of the litigation if it was brought into U.S. jurisdiction. It’s my understanding she clarified, to make that point clear, that it was not yet in U.S. jurisdiction.
QUESTION: But why would you – I don’t understand. Why would you issue a ruling about something that’s not even in – within U.S. jurisdiction?
MS. HARF: Because the Government of Iraq filed suit in her court, in a Texas court Monday against the cargo onboard the tanker.
QUESTION: Well, is that because the cargo was going to U.S. companies? Is that – it was bound for the U.S., right?
QUESTION: Yeah, U.S. companies, yeah.
MS. HARF: So the government --
QUESTION: So that’s why the – that’s why --
MS. HARF: That’s why --
QUESTION: -- a U.S. judge ordered the injunction?
MS. HARF: Well, but they really ordered it because the Government of Iraq filed suit in a court because it was bound for the United States.
QUESTION: So if the ship comes to the U.S, it’s still subject to seizure?
MS. HARF: If it enters U.S. territorial waters, then the legal process will kick in. This judge – this magistrate judge has ordered that in that case, the cargo would be attached and held pending the resolution of the litigation, again, if it’s brought into U.S. legal waters – jurisdictional waters.
QUESTION: Do you have in there who it’s intended for?
QUESTION: So you – sorry, one more question.
MS. HARF: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Sorry, one more question.
MS. HARF: Yeah, I don’t.
QUESTION: So are you saying that you had no conversation at all with the magistrate?
MS. HARF: That anyone from the State Department spoke to the magistrate?
MS. HARF: I don't know if that’s true, but obviously, this is a completely separate legal proceeding. This is not – the U.S. Government’s not involved in this. It’s a commercial transfer, and my understanding is the judge made a ruling, period, and it’s not the State Department’s job to get (inaudible).
QUESTION: But why do you think she held up the conference afterwards?
MS. HARF: To make it clear that the ship was not in U.S. waters, to make it clear that all these questions that everyone had would be cleared up.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: I think there’s a couple more, so – yes. Yes, one, and then Scott.
MS. HARF: Well, we’ve said they should take steps to, and we’ve welcomed steps when they’ve attempted to, and think that the conversation should be ongoing. We think that both countries should have good relationships with their neighbors.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Is that related to the pressure that you said Venezuela brought on the Netherlands and Abuja to release Carvajal?
MS. HARF: No, it is not.
MS. HARF: It was in process before and it’s not related.
QUESTION: You explained in your statement why you would not name the Venezuelans who were named in that. However, in some of the sanctions against Russians, you do name the Russians. So what’s the difference?
MS. HARF: So in the Russian case, it was not just visa bans, it was broader sanctions, which are – names are made public, are not confidential under immigration law. But if it’s just a visa ban, we can’t put the names out. And I will check on Matt’s taken question from the beginning.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: No, sorry.
MS. HARF: Oh. One more.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the knife attack in Xinjiang that occurred?
MS. HARF: Let me see.
QUESTION: I think it was yesterday or two days ago.
MS. HARF: I can check on that. I think I had something. Do you have any more specifics on it?
QUESTION: It happened, like – I think it was two days ago. There was a knife attack in Xinjiang and the Chinese police shot dozens. They called it a terrorist attack, and I was wondering if you had anything on that.
MS. HARF: Let me check on that for you after --
QUESTION: Okay. Thanks, Marie.
MS. HARF: Thanks, guys.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:53 p.m.)
DPB # 133