State Department Briefing by Marie Harf, July 22, 2014

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–July 22, 2014.

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • Secretary Kerry Travel Update and Calls
    • Travel Warning
    • FAA / Notice
    • UNRWA
    • Cease-fire Goal
    • Turkey
    • Intelligence
    • Investigation / Remains
    • Commercial Imagery
    • Sanctions
    • Travel Warning
    • Protests
    • UNRWA
    • Modi Welcome in Washington
    • Secretary Works Very Closely with Lisa Monaco and Denis McDonough
    • U.S. Respects Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Protest in Germany
    • Secretary Kerry Meeting with Foreign Minister Steinmeier in Vienna Last Week
    • Benghazi
    • U.S. Committed to Religious Freedom
    • Benghazi / Security
  • IRAQ
    • Humanitarian Situation / Humanitarian Assistance
    • Secretary Travel
  • D.P.R.K.
    • Civilian Airlines
    • U.S.-Turkey Working Group
  • IRAN
    • IAEA Report
    • Joint Plan of Action
    • U.S. Looks Forward To Working with President-elect Widodo



1:28 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Hello. Welcome to the daily briefing, everyone. Just a quick travel update at the top and then happy to open it up for your questions.

As you know, yesterday, Secretary Kerry arrived in Cairo, where he is meeting with a range of officials regarding the conflict in Israel and Gaza and ongoing efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement. Last night, the Secretary met with UN Secretary General Ban to discuss his recent meetings in the region. This morning, the Secretary met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry, Arab League Secretary General al-Araby, and Egyptian President al-Sisi to discuss the conflict in Israel-Gaza. The Secretary also had two meetings with the Palestinian Authority intel chief as well.

And just a call update. Obviously, the Secretary remains closely engaged with international partners on the situation on the ground. As I said yesterday, over the weekend, he spoke several times with Prime Minister Netanyahu in addition to calls with Foreign Minister Fabius and EU High Representative Lady Ashton. The Secretary spoke with a range of officials in the region, including President Abbas, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, and the U.A.E. foreign minister as well. Yesterday, the Secretary spoke with Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh and Qatari Foreign Minister Al Attiya regarding the ongoing efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement.

Secretary Kerry also remains engaged on the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Over the weekend, he spoke with the Malaysian foreign minister, the French foreign minister, the Dutch foreign minister, the Norwegian foreign minister, and EU High Rep Lady Ashton, in addition to his call with Foreign Minister Lavrov. So far today, he’s spoken with High Rep Ashton, the Qatari foreign minister, and Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu again as well. Lots of phone calls.

QUESTION: Right. Let’s start with the Mideast —

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: — because you started with that. There is some – there is suspicion in Israel and among pro-Israel types in the U.S. that last night’s Travel Warning that the State Department issued for Israel, West Bank, and Gaza, along with the move by the FAA today to ban U.S. airlines from flying to Tel Aviv for up to 24 hours, is somehow a political move intended to put pressure on the Israelis, on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government to agree to a cease-fire that they might not want to. In addition to the U.S. airlines, now a bunch of European airlines are also canceling their flights in and out of Tel Aviv.

Is there any truth to that? Did the – was the State Department involved in this FAA decision at all that you’re aware of?

MS. HARF: So let me take all of those questions in order. So to your first question, I would wholly disagree with that argument. We issue travel warnings because one of our top priorities is protecting U.S. citizens overseas. I would note that in 2012, the Department also issued travel warnings for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza in March, August, and December. So this is a step we have taken when we felt the situation on the ground warranted it. Obviously, that is a process that we go through that in no way is policy related or politically related. It is just related to how we can best protect American citizens.

On the FAA, we, to my knowledge, were not involved in that decision making. Obviously, we knew it was coming today. And I was actually waiting for the announcement to come out before I came out to brief so I had more information. But the FAA makes these decisions when they feel it’s warranted, again, for the safety of United States citizens. And they, in response to the recent attack at Ben Gurion Airport – in the vicinity of Ben Gurion Airport – after consultation with U.S. operators, felt today that it was important to issue this notice, which is in effect for up to 24 hours. And they will provide additional guidance to – the updated instructions to the aircraft operators no later than 24 hours from when it went into effect.

QUESTION: So you knew – this building knew it was coming. Apparently, the White House was a bit out of the loop on this, though.

MS. HARF: That’s not true. I was on many email chains this morning about when the statement would actually come out that included my White House colleagues.

QUESTION: Okay. So when they said that it was a bit disingenuous for the White House to say that there had not been – half an hour before it came out that there has —

MS. HARF: Well, there’s not coordination. The FAA makes decisions on its own from a policy perspective. We all – we knew – I knew a little bit before the briefing, as did the White House, that this was being announced publicly on the communications side.


MS. HARF: But from a policy perspective, this is a process driven entirely by the FAA.

QUESTION: Okay. From the State Department point of view, I mean, is this something that you’re in touch with Israeli authorities about once it comes out or even beforehand?

MS. HARF: Yes. The Department of State as well as the FAA has been in contact with the Israeli Government about this. I don’t have specifics on what that looks like.

QUESTION: Was that before – that was before —

MS. HARF: It’s my understanding it was before.

QUESTION: — this was announced publicly?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. Because they —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’ve seen some reports that they say that they were taken aback by this.

MS. HARF: No, I have here that we consulted with the Israelis before taking this step.

QUESTION: Okay. On a slightly – the same thing but slightly different tack. On UNRWA, I asked you a question yesterday about the rockets that they had found in the school and if you knew what they did with them after they had found them. Now, apparently, there have been some more found today. Do you have an answer to the question from —

MS. HARF: I wasn’t aware of those found today, but I got a little more information about what you asked me about yesterday that – a few points on this. Obviously, UNRWA is a humanitarian organization operating in a very difficult operating environment. That’s particularly acute in Gaza, obviously, where there is an active and ongoing conflict.

In terms of what happened to them, UNRWA has told us that they asked the local police to remove the rockets from the school. We recognize that this was not an acceptable outcome and we are consulting closely with UN leadership, with UNRWA, the Israeli Government, and the Palestinian Authority to develop better options available in the event of future incidents. Again, it’s important to remember that UNRWA is a humanitarian relief organization, it’s not a peacekeeping mission equipped to deal with the kind of situation where you find rockets. That’s not their mandate.

We also urge UNRWA to continue to be as transparent as possible about this issue. They will have more details on it, but that’s what I know as of right now.

QUESTION: Well, is it your understanding that by local police, that was Hamas, right?

MS. HARF: I think they can better speak to who specifically in the local police. I don’t have more information than that.

QUESTION: Well, if you – but if you say it was the – that the outcome was not acceptable, it would appear that UNRWA gave these missiles back to their owners, back to Hamas.

MS. HARF: They have told us they went to the local police. I will leave it to UNRWA to provide more details about who that was.


MS. HARF: I just don’t have those details, Matt.

QUESTION: Is there —

MS. HARF: I just don’t have them.

QUESTION: So after this happened, the Secretary and people with the Secretary in Cairo announced an additional tranche, a big package of aid, including $15 million to UNRWA.

MS. HARF: Which is an organization that does very important work in terms of the humanitarian situation, not just in Gaza but elsewhere.

QUESTION: I understand. But can you see how to an outside observer, this sounds a little bit – this sounds a bit bizarre that —

MS. HARF: Well, maybe to an outside observer who doesn’t have all the facts or understand the details here. But I think I just laid out for you that we don’t believe this is an acceptable outcome.


MS. HARF: The UNRWA is operating in a very difficult situation and there weren’t a lot of good options here. And we are working with them to try and figure out a better outcome in the future.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, the facts are pretty clear: UNRWA discovers missile or rockets in its school; it condemns it, informs the UN, obviously, and then hands them back over to the people who are shooting them into Israel and then —

MS. HARF: Well, let’s not make sweeping generalizations. They – it’s —

QUESTION: But that’s —

MS. HARF: They’ve told us they gave them to the local police.

QUESTION: Well, but the local police in Gaza are Hamas.

MS. HARF: Okay. Well, Matt, I’m sure UNRWA can provide more details about who specifically they gave them back to. But I would —


MS. HARF: — just be careful about making sweeping generalizations and I’d check with them about who specifically they were given to.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, if you say it was unacceptable, I’m assuming that it was unacceptable. But anyway, you ended up still giving —

MS. HARF: I do tend to mean what I say, yes.

QUESTION: Exactly. You say it’s unacceptable, but you won’t say why it’s unacceptable. Right?

MS. HARF: I don’t have more for you than that.

QUESTION: Okay. So but then you go ahead and announce another $15 million to this very organization which is —

MS. HARF: Because it’s an important organization.

QUESTION: I understand. Okay, so maybe —

MS. HARF: Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

QUESTION: Okay, so maybe the question is this: What would have been an acceptable outcome in this situation?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to outline specifically what that might have looked like. We’re looking at what acceptable outcomes might look like in the future. I don’t have details on it.

QUESTION: A lot of Israelis have been skeptical, critical, of UNRWA in the past. Do you – I mean, this kind of a situation does not underscore those kinds of concerns?

MS. HARF: Well, look, again, to underscore here, UNRWA is operating in a very difficult situation in a difficult environment. And they aren’t, to be frank here, equipped to deal with discovering rockets in a school where they were working humanitarianly. So again, this wasn’t a good outcome. We certainly don’t think it was, but I would caution people from jumping to conclusions about what UNRWA was trying to do here. We’re working with them to try to do better in the future.

QUESTION: Right. So you don’t believe that this amounts to aiding and abetting of —

MS. HARF: I would certainly not say that.

QUESTION: On this, a clarification —

QUESTION: Marie, can I just ask, there was a school – there was another UNRWA school today that has been hit by – that was sheltering displaced Palestinians that has been hit. I’m not sure what the death toll or the casualty toll is yet from that. Do you believe that possibly by the discovery of these rockets, UNRWA schools have now become a target or UNRWA facilities are now become a target for the Israeli forces?

I was just at a meeting with the Israeli ambassador in which he said that under the rules of war, if rockets are hidden in schools, hospitals, medical facilities, or homes, they become legitimate targets. Has UNRWA now become a legitimate target in this conflict?

MS. HARF: Well, I – well, no, I would say UNRWA is not a legitimate target, but let’s step back for a second. I haven’t seen those reports from today. We do know that Hamas has used schools, hospitals, other civilian buildings to hide fighters, to hide rockets, to hide the tools that they’re using to attack Israel with. So I’ll say that, point A.

Point B, I’m not going to make a sort of international legal judgment based on comments I didn’t see by the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. We have said that Israel has a right to defend itself. We’ve also said that they need to take every effort to protect civilian casualties of Palestinians. So those two things are also true at the same time.

I can look into the report about this morning. I just haven’t seen it.

QUESTION: Marie, can you —

QUESTION: So I mean, do you believe that the – that if Hamas is hiding these rockets in schools and wherever, those then are legitimate targets by the Israelis as they press —

MS. HARF: I don’t want to say that. I don’t want to make that generalization. What I’ve said generally is that Israel has a right to defend itself, and these rockets are terrorizing the people of Israel. But schools, hospitals, there are places where civilians, particularly displaced people, do go to seek refuge that Hamas has used. So obviously, I don’t want to make a more specific judgment on what is not a legitimate target here. I’m happy to look into this specific issue.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Marie, on the UNRWA —

MS. HARF: Wait, wait. Let me – let’s do one at a time, please. Thank you.

Said, go ahead.

QUESTION: On the UNRWA issue. Now, in the absence of another authority – okay – in Gaza, where they should turned it to? Who they should have turned it to?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re working with them to see what the other options could have been. We’re working with them.

QUESTION: What could possibly —

MS. HARF: Because obviously, we wouldn’t want rockets to be given back to people who would use them.

QUESTION: I understand, but considering that Gaza is under siege or doesn’t have any connection —

MS. HARF: Well, there have to be other options here, so we’re trying to determine what they are.


MS. HARF: But we also know that it’s very difficult for UNRWA. I mean, they were not equipped to deal with this, and so we’re trying to help them get better.

QUESTION: Okay, like, could they have gone, let’s say, to a third party, as the UN, for instance?

MS. HARF: I don’t have specifics about the other options. We’re working on those right now.

QUESTION: Okay, now let me just quickly follow up —

MS. HARF: Okay. You’re next, I promise.

QUESTION: Yeah. Let me just quickly follow up on the process or the progress of the cease-fire talk. Can you update us on where we are now?

MS. HARF: Well, the Secretary is on the ground in Cairo, has meetings today with Egyptian President al-Sisi, Foreign Minister Shoukry, again, Arab League Secretary General al-Araby. He’s been on the phone with President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu, other regional partners as well.

But look, the reality here is that this is a complicated situation. There are multiple regional players, difficult strategic issues involved, and we’re working together to try to achieve a cease-fire as soon as possible. It’s in the best interest – excuse me – of both sides to do so.

QUESTION: Does the Secretary and his team know roughly, like, do they have like a day, a few days, a week, or anything like this?

MS. HARF: Well, we want this to be as soon as possible so civilians cannot be at risk anymore. But obviously, I don’t have a specific timeline for you, but as soon as possible.

QUESTION: So conceivably, it could happen in a very short order.

MS. HARF: Absolutely, we certainly hope that it does. But again, I want to set expectations here. It’s very complicated, a lot of strategic issues involved, and it could take longer than I think anyone would want.

QUESTION: There are reports that —

QUESTION: Do you know if —

MS. HARF: I promised.

QUESTION: Excuse me.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you know if Secretary Kerry is planning to come back, to go back to Washington before a cease-fire agreement is reached?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have anything to announce in terms of his return to Washington. What we’re focused on right now is seeing if he can help move the process forward. No plans to return at this point, so I think we’ll see what happens in the coming days.

QUESTION: Could you give us a sense, what are his next steps? Is he going to Qatar, for example?

MS. HARF: No additional travel to announce at this point. He’s in Cairo for the foreseeable future and don’t have anything to announce.

QUESTION: As you may know, Hamas has said many times in the past few weeks that it doesn’t – they don’t have good relationship with Egypt, so how do – what’s your comment on that?

MS. HARF: Well, there are a number of regional players that we’ve been talking to, not just the Egyptians, but the Qataris and Emirates and others who do have relationships, as the Egyptians do, with Hamas. Obviously, we don’t, but we’ve talked to other partners who do. So we are all trying to use whatever leverage we have and whatever relationships we have to push the sides to get to a cease-fire they can accept, because we think that’s what needs to happen as soon as possible here.

QUESTION: What kind of cease-fire they can accept? Could you give us an idea?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve talked in general about the 2012 ceasefire agreement and what that looked like, but I’m not going to more specifically outline what the conversations on the ground are like.

QUESTION: Do you know if Israel accepts the 2012 agreement?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to get into what the discussions look like on the ground. They’re all ongoing right now.

QUESTION: So the Secretary will not return to DC before the cease-fire is agreed upon?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. I said we have no plans for him to return now. We’re going to see how much progress we can make in the coming days.

QUESTION: Do you know if the FAA order would cover the Secretary’s plane should he – I mean, should he decide in the next 24 hours, before 12:15 tomorrow afternoon, that he wanted to go, would it be appropriate for him to go to Israel?

MS. HARF: Could he land at Ben Gurion? Well, this was —

QUESTION: Would – does it apply to the Air Force?

MS. HARF: I don’t know if this applies to United States military aircraft. It obviously applies to commercial airlines.


MS. HARF: I can check.

QUESTION: Marie, I was hoping to go back to that airline thing. So the – I just want to be clear that the State Department was informed by the FAA about – it didn’t have any input into the decision.

MS. HARF: We had – I can check on what the specific decision making looked like. As I said, we talked to the Israelis about it before – we consulted with them before we announced it. But this is an FAA decision —


MS. HARF: — based solely on security of American citizens and American airlines. I’ll check on what the process is, but —

QUESTION: Because I remember in the East China Sea where the State Department actually said to the airlines, “avoid that area” —

MS. HARF: I’m not sure that was the State Department or that was the FAA in that case as well.


MS. HARF: I remember referring a lot of questions to the FAA at that time too.

QUESTION: As well.

MS. HARF: I can check.


MS. HARF: Obviously, I mean, with the Travel Warning we take very seriously the security and safety of American citizens. I’m sure we had discussions with the FAA about it. I just wanted to make very clear that there was no – nothing driving this beyond security.

QUESTION: So do – and so you agree with that decision, and do you think it should be prolonged according to whatever the conditions – as things stay —

MS. HARF: We’ll see what the conditions look like on the ground. As I said, FAA will give updated instructions to U.S. airlines no later than 24 hours from when it went into effect, which was at 12:15 p.m. Eastern today. It could be earlier, depending on the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: The fact that the – some of the European airlines, Air France and Lufthansa, have now followed suit – was that something that was collectively decided among sort of international airline bodies, or —

MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t know the answer to that.

QUESTION: Or are they just following because the FAA’s done it?

MS. HARF: They may just be following. Obviously, we discuss these issues with our counterparts around the world. This was just a decision for U.S. airlines. Let me check on that and see if there’s more details to share.


QUESTION: Back to Secretary Kerry?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Does the Secretary have some concrete proposals to the parties, or he’s just now in Cairo waiting for —

MS. HARF: I think anyone who knows the Secretary knows he always has concrete proposals and doesn’t just wait around for anything. But what he’s doing is talking to our partners, the Egyptians, others about how we can get to a ceasefire. There are a lot of pieces to this, so obviously there are active discussions, productive discussions going on today about how we could get to a ceasefire. I’m not going to outline what they look like specifically, but the discussions are very substantive and productive today.

QUESTION: But for the time being, he’s focusing on getting a ceasefire?

MS. HARF: Correct. That is the goal.

Yes, Said.

QUESTION: Marie, the Israelis warned international journalists to keep out of the combat area. You have anything to say on that?

MS. HARF: I’ve seen some – sorry – I had seen some reports of that. I can’t confirm those details. Obviously, we put out a Travel Warning today for American citizens.


MS. HARF: We believe, of course, that journalists should not be targets of violence, must be protected and allowed to freely do their jobs no matter where, but I hadn’t seen those specific reports.

QUESTION: Now, those international journalists, almost all of them, agree that Hamas operatives don’t even go to these hospitals like Shifa and Wafa and so on; they have their own clinics and hospitals to send their fighters to that are, in fact, probably closed to the public. And most of these areas that were targeted were actually civilian hospitals. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t want to do individual assessments of targets that may have been hit by Israeli operations. That’s just not my place to do that. I will note, as I did, that Hamas has in the past used civilian hospitals, schools to hide rockets, to hide fighters. I don’t want to make an independent judgment about each individual operation it’s undertaken, though. I don’t think that’s my place to do that.

QUESTION: Marie, the —

MS. HARF: Yes, staying here? Yeah.

QUESTION: The Israeli ambassador last night, he was talking at a group event for – run by Christians for Israel or something like that, and he said that he believed that Israel deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for Israeli soldiers, for the restraint that they’ve shown in going in and doing what he would say is targeted operations. And he thinks – at a breakfast I was at this morning, he says the international community should watch with admiration what the Israeli army is doing. Is it the opinion of the United States that there is restraint being shown by the Israeli army, that they are really working to try and get civilians out of harm’s way, they’re giving them advance warning? Do you believe that his comments are accurate?

MS. HARF: Well, a few points. As the President said yesterday, they do have a right to defend themselves. They have given us assurances that they are taking every step to protect civilians from casualties.

The President also said yesterday that we’re – we have serious concerns about the growing number of Palestinian civilian deaths. And it is clear, I think, that while the Israelis have said they hold themselves to very high standards and we certainly hold them to the same standards as well, I think probably they could take some greater steps, maybe could do a little bit more. And we’ll continue those conversations with the Israelis going forward.

QUESTION: So they haven’t shown enough restraint, then, in your opinion?

MS. HARF: Well, we do think that there could be – they could do a bit more, that they could maybe take some greater steps here. But again, we’ve been very clear, having said that, that Israel has a right to defend itself; that that’s what they are doing in this case; that when their civilians are the targets of terrorist rockets that are the – Hamas firing them into Israel, that there’s a very serious obligation to protect their citizens.

QUESTION: So what kind of greater steps would you like to see Israel take?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any specifics for you. It’s a conversation we’ll continue having with them.

QUESTION: Sorry, they should take a – they should do a little bit more? Or a bit more?

MS. HARF: I said it’s clear they could take greater steps.

QUESTION: Does that mean you would prefer that they didn’t blow up kids on the – on a beach?

MS. HARF: I said it’s clear they could take greater steps, Matt.

QUESTION: But you said “a little bit,” and then you said “a bit more.”

MS. HARF: Feel free to use whatever quote of mine you’d like. I think I just made clear they could do more, and I don’t have anything to add to that.

QUESTION: Okay. But is it your opinion that all they need to do is a little bit more, or is —

MS. HARF: I just said it’s clear they could take greater steps. Happy to use whatever quote you’d like.

QUESTION: Marie, sorry.

MS. HARF: Yes, Said.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about the number of soldiers that have U.S. citizenship. The latest figures show that there are 2,000 Americans serving for the Israeli army.

MS. HARF: I haven’t – I don’t think we keep figures on that. I don’t – I certainly haven’t seen them.

QUESTION: Okay. I just wanted – maybe you could look into it.

MS. HARF: We do – the State Department does not keep figures on how many U.S. citizens are volunteering with the IDF. We do not.


QUESTION: Can we switch to Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Are there any more on this?


QUESTION: Oh yeah.

MS. HARF: Okay. Then you can switch us to Ukraine, yes.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: You – earlier you mentioned also yesterday that the Secretary talked to Foreign Minister Davutoglu.

MS. HARF: He’s spoken to him many times, yes.

QUESTION: And can you give us a little bit more on that – what exactly the Secretary wants Turkey at this point?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve talked to all of our partners in the region about how they could play a constructive role in getting to a ceasefire here. That was part of these conversations.

QUESTION: Okay. You talk about the countries that have ties with Hamas that can play a role. Do you think Turkey can play a role at this point?

MS. HARF: I think, certainly, they’re one of the countries. And, I think, to address one of the questions that you asked yesterday, the Secretary has raised our concerns about the inflammatory statements we have seen a number of times, including during his call with Foreign Minister Davutoglu today. Senior U.S. officials in Washington and Ankara have also raised our concerns with Turkish counterparts. So I wanted to answer a question you asked yesterday.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: You’re welcome.

QUESTION: But does the – I want to just – taking my colleague’s question a bit further: Do those inflammatory comments kind of rule out Turkey as being any way – in any shape or form a mediator in this conflict?

MS. HARF: No, no. But we did – as I said yesterday, it does hurt their ability to play a constructive role here. But no, I wouldn’t rule it out. Obviously, we believe they can play a role, but these comments certainly do not help.

QUESTION: Not this, but related to something Jen talked about last week, which was – she expressed concern about the arrest and detentions without charge of members of the Abu Khdeir family, the family whose one American teen was beaten up and is now back in Florida, and the other one who was murdered.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Has there been a – are you aware if there’s been a resolution to that situation with the family?

MS. HARF: I’m checking. I’m not sure if there has been. Let me see if I have something from yesterday. I thought I did, but I might not. Let’s see.

We – this is probably what she said last week, that we’ve raised our concerns with senior Israeli officials; the Israelis have said they are looking into the issue. We’re continuing to closely monitor it. We do not believe that any of the detained family members are American citizens. I’ll check and see if there’s an update. I don’t have anything else.

QUESTION: Right, but one of the things that Jen said last week was that you had an – even though none of them were – are American citizens, that you obviously have an interest in this case given the fact that one of the relatives was an American citizen. Is it your understanding that there’s – that the Israelis have taken 15 members of this family into custody?

MS. HARF: I don’t have a number in here.

QUESTION: Okay. Could you just check to see —

MS. HARF: I can check, yep.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Staying here?

QUESTION: Yes. If I can just go back to the press coverage issue in Gaza, I’m not asking you to comment on any one specific incident, but have you relayed in general your concerns about freedom of the press, freedom of channels to be able to relay the news in Gaza to Israeli officials? Have you been in touch with them about that?

MS. HARF: I can check on that specifically. Obviously, we make it very clear all the time, but let me check on that specifically.

QUESTION: Well, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman quoted in press by saying that Al Jazeera, at least, was, quote, spreading “anti-Israeli incitement, lies, and encouragement to the terrorists.” That is his quote, and wanted close the channel there in his country. Do you agree with his assessment?

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly believe that journalists must be able to freely do their jobs no matter where they’re operating, period, and don’t think steps should be taken to prevent them from doing so.

QUESTION: And just to follow up on this question, actually, I got at these two. I was asked to ask this question many times. (Laughter.) One of the CNN report —

MS. HARF: Is it about our relationship with Turkey strategically?

QUESTION: No. I’ll do it next week.

MS. HARF: Okay, I’ll wait for it. (Laughter.) Or you can do it later this week.


MS. HARF: Give me a few days off from it.

QUESTION: One of the CNN reporters, because of her tweet – I don’t remember her name right now, but because of her tweet, she was relocated to Russia because she was saying in tweet that she was insulted by some of the Israelis that were watching the bombs coming over the Gaza. So the question was: As we all know, you are very sensitive to the freedom of press. Do you think this – on this particular issue, you see any issue with the CNN —

MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I’m not familiar with this case.


MS. HARF: I’m happy to look into it.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to UNRWA for one second?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Are you – in your discussions with – are you – what exactly are you telling them – what are you telling them to do? Are you telling them to consult with who about how to handle these —

MS. HARF: Right. We’re talking to them, to the UN leadership, to the PA, and to the Israel Government about developing better options in the case something like this happens. I don’t have specifics about what those options might look like.

QUESTION: Okay. But you’re —

MS. HARF: Basically, we want to have – if this happens again, we want to have a different way to resolve it.

QUESTION: Right. Is there any concern that these rockets may now be being fired into Israel?

MS. HARF: I can check and see.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: I just don’t know.

QUESTION: And the money that’s going to them that was announced yesterday – going to UNRWA, 15 million – can you remind us of what that’s for?

MS. HARF: The 15 million specifically? I can check and see if I have that. In terms of what it would specifically do for the organization, I don’t have that in front of me. It was part of a larger, I think, 47 —

QUESTION: It doesn’t go – it’s not intended for rocket disposal, neutralization, and that kind of thing. (Laughter.) Is that right?

MS. HARF: This has long been in the works, Matt.

Yes, I promised Ukraine. You want to go to Ukraine?

QUESTION: Yes. Okay, so the White House said today that it would lay out intel regarding the Malaysian airliner.

MS. HARF: Yes. I told you guys just to stick with us and we’d get you some more intel.

QUESTION: All right. So who – do you have any information on when that’s supposed to be released?

MS. HARF: So I would refer you to the intelligence community, who will today be further declassifying information and will be putting out additional information that supports what we have said; that we believe the most likely outcome here was that this was an SA-11 originated from Russian-separatist controlled areas. I’d refer you to them for details on that.

QUESTION: Okay, but you don’t know —

MS. HARF: But it will be coming out today.

QUESTION: But you don’t know what time, you have (inaudible)?

MS. HARF: I don’t have those details, I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Okay. Also, Russia has recently been questioning a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet that was flying no more than three miles away from the Boeing plane before it was shot down. And they’ve sort of suggested that it may have been involved. They don’t know, but they’re questioning it.

MS. HARF: I think they’ve done more than suggest that, yes.

QUESTION: What evidence does the U.S. have to rule out that as a possibility at this point? Because I’ve heard reports that the U.S. already sort of knocked that out of —

MS. HARF: A couple points. First, as we’ve said, when you look at the kind of markings on the plane and how it looked like it was brought down, obviously that’s consistent with an SA-11, which is fired from the ground. I haven’t seen any information that indicates a Ukrainian jet. We’re still looking into it, obviously. The president of Ukraine has said there was not, but again, we like to independently verify things for Matt, before you ask the question. And so I haven’t seen information that would indicate that.

And all of the – the preponderance of the information that we’ve laid out and that the intelligence community will lay out was that this was an SA-11 fired from the ground from a separatist-controlled area.

QUESTION: And there are also several reports that the Ukrainian military has continued to issue attacks in eastern Ukraine, despite everything going on with the investigation. What kind of information do you have on that, and has the U.S. said anything whatsoever to Kyiv authorities about a cease-fire?

MS. HARF: Well, the president of Ukraine is committed to a 40 kilometer cease-fire around the crash site, and I believe the fighting is outside of that 40 kilometers. I think he’s held to it. And look, we – a cease-fire takes two sides. So where there are attacks against the Ukrainian people, Ukrainian forces, they obviously have a responsibility and obligation to protect their people. But it’s my understanding that they have held the cease-fire around the crash site.

QUESTION: And just one more question.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. concerned about that fighting continuing amidst the investigation?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re concerned about all of the fighting in eastern Ukraine, which is the result of these pro-Russian separatists, who we’ve seen what they’re capable of doing – not just this week but over many weeks, including when they’ve bragged about shooting down planes in the past. So we’ve called on President Putin very directly to use his influence to help end the fighting there.

QUESTION: So President Putin —

QUESTION: Excuse me, I would like to ask you about —

QUESTION: — President Putin said today —

MS. HARF: Can we do – let’s just do one at a time.

QUESTION: — that he would —

MS. HARF: Let’s do Matt, and then we’ll go to you, and then I’ll go to Wesley.


QUESTION: — that he would use that influence.

MS. HARF: Let’s see some actions backed up – backing up those words.

QUESTION: And the other thing is, I would hope that you’re not just verifying these things for me, for my sake.

MS. HARF: Matt, I just care very deeply about answering your questions thoroughly and fulsomely. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Fulsomely, yes. Okay, in —

MS. HARF: No, but I did say yesterday that we are committed and I didn’t just say it to say it. We do mean it.

QUESTION: I understand that. So can you give us any idea – recognizing that the intel community is going to do this and not you – can you give us an idea of what it is that they’re going to —

MS. HARF: I can’t.

QUESTION: — I mean, just broad – okay.

MS. HARF: Obviously, we’ve spoken about our assessment, and I think we’ll have some more information that backs that up.

QUESTION: The Europeans today met – the European Council met —

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: — and said that they were going to expand and enhance —

MS. HARF: I think visa bans, asset freezes.

QUESTION: Correct.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: That’s correct. I presume that you think that’s a good thing?

MS. HARF: We do. Yes.

QUESTION: You do? Do you have anything more to say about it —

MS. HARF: I don’t.

QUESTION: — than just that?

MS. HARF: I don’t.

QUESTION: Just that it’s a good thing?

QUESTION: Do you feel they could go further though? I mean, there’s some reluctance – I think there’s some Europeans that want to go towards a tier 3, to expand it onto different sectors —

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: — and also an arms embargo which would perhaps put the French in a difficult position. And there’s some who don’t – notably the French. So do you think – would you support the EU to go further in these sanctions?

MS. HARF: Well, I think we would support anyone who wants to put increased pressure on the Russians here. As I said yesterday and as the Secretary and the President have both said, this should be a wake-up call for the Europeans, quite frankly, that they should do more. We’ve done more, and we’ll keep working with them on it.

QUESTION: What do you make of the fact that the French, even after the downing of the plane, and – are going to go ahead with the transfer of this warship?

MS. HARF: Clearly think it’s completely inappropriate.

QUESTION: Completely inappropriate?

MS. HARF: And we’ve told them they should not do it.

QUESTION: And why exactly? Because —

MS. HARF: I will let Foreign Minister Fabius speak for himself, which I know he is very capable of doing.

QUESTION: But have you explained to the French your – or do you understand – have the French come to the same conclusion as you did – as you have about who is responsible for this plane going down, do you know?

MS. HARF: It’s my understanding, yes.

QUESTION: They have?

MS. HARF: I mean, they can speak for themselves —


MS. HARF: — but I haven’t heard otherwise.

QUESTION: But I mean, they haven’t come back to you – when you say we think this is a really – this is a bad idea, you shouldn’t go ahead with the transfer, they don’t say well, we don’t – they don’t tell you that we’re – they’re not certain that the Russians are —

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that, Matt.

QUESTION: So what —

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard anyone except for the Russians question what happened here, quite frankly.

QUESTION: Okay. Going back to the stuff that the Russian defense ministry put out yesterday and some of this stuff online, is it your – I’m presuming you have seen – I’m assuming that you’ve seen some of it now.

MS. HARF: Seen some of it.

QUESTION: Do you regard all of that as complete fabrication and —

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen all of it, but certainly the narrative that they are propagating, we very strongly disagree with and have many, many, many pieces of evidence to prove otherwise.

QUESTION: And those pieces of evidence you expect to be presented —

MS. HARF: At this intelligence community briefing, my former colleagues.


MS. HARF: I told you we would try.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, we will all wait with bated breath for that.

MS. HARF: I’m sure you will.

QUESTION: Just on the EU sanctions. There was a suggestion that if they did go ahead with an arms embargo they could make it for new contracts, not existing contracts. Would that be something that the United States would support?

MS. HARF: I don’t know —

QUESTION: Which would allow the Mistral to still go ahead, obviously.

MS. HARF: I don’t know. We obviously don’t think the Mistral should go ahead. I can check on what our position is on that.


MS. HARF: We don’t think anyone should be providing arms to Russia.

QUESTION: Excuse me.

QUESTION: Was that discussion —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: — with the Russian – with the French, was that in the last few days? Was there a renewed discussion?

MS. HARF: We’ve certainly spoken to the French foreign minister over the past few days. I can check and see if it came up. I’m guessing it did.

QUESTION: And then I want to ask about the evidence that the intel community is going to release. Is that going to be expanded – anything that’s – is that going to be more than what we’ve seen or heard?

MS. HARF: I think if there wasn’t, I’m not sure why they would be doing it. But yes.


MS. HARF: You can hold me to that tomorrow if no. But I think that they will be – we have – there’s going to be further declassification. We will be putting out more information later. Again, it bolsters and backs up the general assessment we’ve already put out there, but they will be putting more information out there.

QUESTION: Do you know if satellite images will be —

QUESTION: May I go back – may I go back to the —


QUESTION: — Traveling Warning, please? I was —

MS. HARF: You two can figure out who’s going to —

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: It’s my turn.

MS. HARF: It’s your turn.

QUESTION: It’s my turn.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: May I go back to the Travel Warning?

QUESTION: Can I stay with Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’ve got another Ukraine one.

MS. HARF: Okay. He’s going to ask one, and then Nicole can.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Go back to the Travel Warning that this Department has issued yesterday —

MS. HARF: For Ukraine?

QUESTION: No, no, for Israel and —

MS. HARF: We’re going to stay on Ukraine and then we’ll go to Israel. We’re going to stay on Ukraine. We’re going to do one topic at a time.

Nicole, on Ukraine.

QUESTION: Just with regard to the intelligence you’re going to be releasing later today, the Administration, a member of the Russian defense ministry’s advisory council came out earlier today basically with statements – a statement discrediting what you guys are saying. And one of the arguments he made is that the satellite that you have above Ukraine can only register missile launches within a zone of 50 to 100 kilometers, and so that there’s no way with any specificity the U.S. can say that the missile came from rebel-controlled territory. Could you respond to that?

MS. HARF: I think for more details, I think the intelligence community can probably respond. I, suffice to say, strongly disagree with what he said. We’ve seen a history throughout this conflict of the Russian Government putting out just sheer propaganda, falsehoods about what’s happening. We have a great deal of open-source evidence and intelligence to back it up that supports what we believe to be true, and we’ll talk about that more in the coming days.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Ukraine? Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Ukraine.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about the remains of the passengers that were turned in to – did —

MS. HARF: Yes. We are pleased that the victims’ remains have finally started their journey back to their loved ones. They – let me see if I can get the details about this specifically, if you just give me one second.

This was part of the agreement that the Malaysian authorities reached with the separatist leader to do three things: move the bodies by train to Kharkiv where they will be handed over to a Dutch representative; hand over the black boxes to a Malaysian team; and guarantee safe access to the crash site for investigators to begin their work. And thus far, all three of these things have happened. The bodies have been moved, black boxes have been delivered to the Malaysians, and monitors had much-improved access today. We are hopeful that that access will continue.

The OSCE did confirm that a contingent of Dutch, Malaysian, and OSCE representatives accompanied the remains on a train to Kharkiv where they will go on to the Netherlands. I can’t confirm yet if the flight to the Netherlands has happened. The train arrived in Kharkiv around 4:30 a.m. Washington time.

QUESTION: It’s a morbid task, but can you give us a figure? All the passengers, 298 have —

MS. HARF: I don’t have that. I mean, we know 298 people were on the plane. I don’t have specifics beyond —

QUESTION: Do you have any information – there was some suggestion that the Ukrainian separatists have said that there were 282 bodies that were handed over, and in fact it seems that the people who have received them said there were only 200 bodies. Do you have any —

MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t have – I – that’s a good question. Let me check with our colleagues there.

QUESTION: There have been some reports that the wreckage of the plane was badly tampered with, including one report that said the cockpit had – well, the remains of the cockpit had actually been sawed in half. Do you have – do you know about this?

MS. HARF: I can’t confirm that. I’ve obviously seen the reports that – and we saw just video and photos of the pro-Russian separatists tampering with the evidence in a fairly grotesque way. I can see if I can confirm the issue about the cockpit.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, I’m just wondering, in general, if such tampering – does that – and the fact that the Secretary said the scene was already seriously compromised —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, are you concerned at all that the investigation will not be able to reach a conclusive —

MS. HARF: No. I think we are concerned about what happened at the crash site, but we do believe that the investigation can go forward and can make a judgment about what happened here.

QUESTION: One more —

QUESTION: A correct and factual judgment, not just any judgment, right?

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: Can I have one more?

MS. HARF: Wait. Let’s go to Lucas, then I’m coming to you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: On the Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, there’s a map showing the SA-11 surface-to-air missile trajectory as well as the flight path of the aircraft.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Did this image originate from the State Department?

MS. HARF: It’s commercial imagery that’s available commercially.

QUESTION: And was that —

MS. HARF: And I know we posted it on our Facebook page in the Embassy, but it is commercial imagery.

QUESTION: So commercial imagery. And did somebody at the State Department or from the Embassy put in the flight tracks, the lines?

MS. HARF: I don’t think anyone here did. I think that this is something we’ve been using internally inside the broader USG who’s been talking about this, but let me see if I can get you some more details on that.

QUESTION: Okay, because that —

MS. HARF: And flight paths are obviously publicly available information, so —

QUESTION: Right. But the track of the missile —

MS. HARF: Yeah. It’s a good question, Lucas, and let me check on that.

Yes. On Ukraine?

QUESTION: Yes, madam. This is one of the unique kind of incident, what terrible incident has taken place. Many people are asking now: What is the future – are you calling any kind of some kind of international aviation conference? How can you avoid in the future such incidents? Because this is not – in the past you had seen some bombs and all kind of those things, but not the way it happened now.

MS. HARF: Well, in terms of international response, as you saw yesterday, the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution about this incident, and we welcomed that resolution. It talked about a number of things, including the investigation here. And as you saw too, we are very – take very seriously, the United States Government writ large through the FAA, our obligations to protect American citizens and to warn U.S. carriers when we think there could be a possible security risk. I don’t have, I think, more details for you about what comes next. But I think the President was clear yesterday that these incidents need to have accountability, and that’s what the investigation is going to do – that people – what we need to find out right now is who was on the ground with the pro-Russian separatists, who exactly was there at the launch site for the SA-11. That’s part of what the investigation will do so we can hold people accountable.

QUESTION: May I have one on India, please?

QUESTION: No, sorry. Do you —

MS. HARF: We’ll go to you next, then. Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any information that would corroborate this, what this Ukrainian official in Kyiv is saying that a Russian – is that what he just asked – or that a Russian officer actually pushed the button?

MS. HARF: I don’t think he just asked that. I haven’t seen any. Obviously, one of the things we’re trying to figure out right now – and this is the hardest thing – who was at the site. So we’re still trying to figure that out right now.

QUESTION: Who was at the site and who actually did whatever it is that is required to launch it.

MS. HARF: Correct, yes.

Okay, Gaza.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you so much.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I want to go back to the Travel Warning that this Department has issued yesterday. We all understand, we all know that the situation in Gaza is not safe. My question is: Why Israel? I mean, do you consider that Israel and mainly Tel Aviv are not safe now?

MS. HARF: Well, due to the ongoing hostilities, we have warned U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling there. We have recommended that U.S. citizens consider deferring nonessential travel to Israel and to the West Bank. We have long – had a longstanding, strong warning to U.S. citizens against any travel to the Gaza Strip.

QUESTION: So that means you consider Israel is an unsafe place, that’s —

MS. HARF: Well, we are warning them to consider deferring nonessential travel. We’re giving them the information that there are security risks. Obviously, we’re not telling them not to go there, as is the case with the Gaza Strip.

QUESTION: Okay. Based on what you said, do you – are you aware or do you have any information if Hamas possesses, has any long-range missiles, can reach the Ben Gurion Airport?

MS. HARF: Well, that’s a separate issue with the FAA. Let me go to that for just one second. Because there was a recent attack in the vicinity of Ben Gurion Airport, that’s why the FAA issued the notice to airmen today informing U.S. airlines they’re prohibited from going there to or from for 24 hours. So obviously, there was a security risk in the vicinity of Ben Gurion Airport.

QUESTION: So that means, based on what you are saying, that Hamas has the capability to shoot down any civilian aircraft?

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t say that. I said that there was —

QUESTION: No. I mean, I’m trying to —

MS. HARF: I know. You’re trying to extrapolate from what I said to make judgments.

QUESTION: Exactly, yeah.

MS. HARF: And I’m telling you the facts as I know them. I’m happy to see if there’s additional judgments we can make about Hamas’s capabilities here. It was because of an attack in the vicinity of the airport that we don’t want U.S. airlines landing or taking off from there for a period of up to 24 hours. Let me check and see on the capabilities, in terms of the kind of rockets they have, in terms of airlines. I can check on that.

QUESTION: Marie – okay. Marie?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: But Ben Gurion Airport has been targeted before by Hamas rockets. Why wasn’t there a warning then and there is one now?

MS. HARF: Well, again, this is just in response to this recent attack. Obviously, it’s been some time. I don’t know the precise details about the past attacks, but this was in response to a recent attack. We haven’t seen one like this in recent memory, so we thought we would issue this warning (inaudible) the FAA.

QUESTION: Well, I mean maybe a week before when the hostilities started —

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check and get the specifics on that.

QUESTION: — there was some rockets landing on —

MS. HARF: Okay. I don’t know if it was the same vicinity. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Do you have any concern that Hamas may have antiaircraft weapons?

MS. HARF: I will check and see. I don’t have all the details about their capabilities. Let me check on that.

QUESTION: Do you – one of the – among the complaints of Israelis who are upset that – or pro-Israel people who are upset about the Travel Warning and think that it’s a political move is that over the course of the last several days, the number of rockets going into Israeli territory has declined, and they raise the question: Why wasn’t the Travel Warning issued, say, 10 days ago when the number of rockets was far higher?

MS. HARF: Well, Matt, I would —

QUESTION: It’s their question, not mine.

MS. HARF: And I’m using their term. I would very much consider myself to be one of the people that thinks our protection of U.S. citizens abroad is our – one of our, if not our highest priority at the State Department. Obviously, we issue these travel warnings. There’s a process for updating them and changing them, which is what we did here, and this is the timing that came out of that process. There’s no specific reason why this timing was selected. It’s because of the ongoing hostilities we wanted to put the warning out.

QUESTION: The conspiratorial-minded say that the timing is – the convergence of the Secretary’s visit to Cairo is very coincidental, shall we say, when – or not coincidental —

MS. HARF: Well, it is, and there’s just no facts to back up those kind of conspiracies, period.

QUESTION: Okay. So —

MS. HARF: Period.

QUESTION: — flat out?

MS. HARF: Period.

QUESTION: Would you think that – what’s the likelihood of the FAA warning staying in place until – for the duration until there is a ceasefire in place? Do you think those two could —

MS. HARF: I don’t know. I would – they’ll have a better sense at the FAA of that. Again, they’ll have to provide updated instructions to airlines no later than 24 hours, given that it’s only up to 24 hours. But I really don’t know.

QUESTION: Is it – I mean, is there a possibility that it could be extended beyond a 24-hour period?

MS. HARF: There is. There is. There is.

QUESTION: Excuse me. Just on the same topic, I know that this Department always plans for contingencies. Do you have any plan in case the situation gets worse to evacuate U.S. citizens from Israel, for example?

MS. HARF: Not that I’ve heard of. Obviously, we have an open embassy there working on the ground. We also have a consulate, as you’re aware of. They’re operating on a little reduced staffing right now. The Embassy in Tel Aviv is operating at reduced staffing. The consular section is providing only emergency consular services. The consulate general in Jerusalem is maintaining normal operations, including consular services. So I haven’t heard anything beyond that.

On this still?


MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Then what’s your assessment about the protests going on across the United States, Europe, and many European countries, and across the world, of course, concerning the Israeli invasion of Gaza?

MS. HARF: Well, I got asked about this yesterday, and I think I’d probably make a few points that I also made yesterday, one of which is that Israel does have the right to defend its citizens. And I think that many of the people if they were – in these protests – if they were constantly having to run to bomb shelters because terrorists were firing rockets at them, I think some of them may feel differently. I don’t want to speak for them. But certainly, Israel is living under a very serious terrorist threat that they have a responsibility to protect their people from.

As I said, though, a few minutes ago, we do believe that Israel should uphold the highest standards. They have told us they will. We think they could be doing more to protect civilian casualties here, and we’ll keep the conversation going with them on this as well. So I want to, I think, probably make both points here and don’t have much more comment on the protests than that.

QUESTION: Sorry, back on UNRWA again. So I’m just looking at the – there wasn’t —

MS. HARF: I love when you email people and you —

QUESTION: There – I didn’t – no, I didn’t email anybody. I got —

MS. HARF: You’re looking at your phone going back.

QUESTION: Well, I am. But I’m looking at an UNRWA statement that just came out —

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: — that says, in fact, that yes, there was another – a second cache found.

MS. HARF: Okay. I can check on that. I’m not familiar with it.

QUESTION: And they say they’re taking all appropriate measures. Now after the – to deal with this stuff, these rockets – after this first incident, and you’re saying that the result was unacceptable, what’s your understanding of what all appropriate measures are for UNRWA to do with this cache of rockets?

MS. HARF: I don’t know where the conversation – I know we’re having conversations with them about what other options exist. I’ll check and see where they stand. I hadn’t seen the report of the second one; I’m happy to get more information.

QUESTION: Okay. It just seems very bizarre that rockets that are – that you condemn are being handed by a UN agency back to the local authorities.

MS. HARF: A UN agency, to be fair, that’s not armed, that’s —

QUESTION: I understand that.

MS. HARF: Well, no, no, no, but you get to make your point; I get to make mine. So they are a UN agency that’s unarmed, that is not equipped to deal with these kind of things. They did not make the right decision and no one’s – we’re certainly not saying that. But let’s give them a little bit of a benefit of the doubt here that it is difficult. But we are working with them to make sure there are better options.

QUESTION: Okay. But while you give them the benefit of the doubt, they give Hamas their rockets back, and those rockets can —

MS. HARF: Okay. You’re making sweeping generalizations again.

QUESTION: Well, no, I’m not. I mean, I think that’s —

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t know who they – we’ll check and see who the local authorities were they gave them to, and let’s not jump to conclusions here before we have all the facts. That’s all I’m saying.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: On Gaza. Anything else on Gaza?

QUESTION: I have something completely unrelated to anything we’re —

MS. HARF: Okay. Why don’t you take us somewhere else and then we’ll go around the room.

QUESTION: But I – no, I can go last. I’m —

MS. HARF: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: India. Quickly, a two-part question: One, if Secretary has ever or now recently advised the White House or President for a new U.S. ambassador to India? Because the U.S. Embassy is still without a U.S. Ambassador in India, in Delhi.

MS. HARF: Let me check and see.

QUESTION: Number two: How can we overcome this 10-year-old problem as far as visa for Mr. Modi then – and now prime minister of India? Because each time in India right now, every day in the news and all that in the minds of the people, the same thing is sitting there. Is U.S. Embassy or State Department doing anything to overcome, because now —

MS. HARF: Well —

QUESTION: — the prime minister of India is coming to the U.S. and White House —

MS. HARF: Correct. And we made very clear he would be welcomed, so —

QUESTION: No, but my question —

MS. HARF: — I think that probably answers the question about whether or not – the visa issue.

QUESTION: No, I mean as far as a public – (inaudible) campaign or something, if U.S. Embassy or State Department doing to overcome this problem of the 10-year-old not visa for Mr. Modi?

MS. HARF: Well, I think when you have the White House and the State Department, the President both – all come out and say we welcome Mr. Modi to come to Washington, I think that should make very clear that he is indeed welcome in Washington.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: You are welcome.


QUESTION: Go to Germany?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Did Secretary Kerry send – had representative at this meeting with the President – Obama’s chief of staff and Lisa Monaco with counterparts in the German Government?

MS. HARF: I can check and see. Obviously, the Secretary’s part of the Administration, and the chief of staff of the White House is a key part of the Administration. I can see who else was there. I don’t have more details on who was there. Obviously, the Secretary works very closely with Lisa Monaco and Dennis McDonough.

QUESTION: Earlier today your colleague in the White House, Mr. Earnest, said that this is part of a, quote, “structured dialogue” to address concerns on both sides.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there anything more to read out from the podium?

MS. HARF: There’s not. Obviously, I know he spoke about it a bit. As we’ve said before, we will discuss these issues privately, not publicly, and this is part of that effort.



MS. HARF: Yes.

Do you want to follow up on your Benghazi questions from yesterday? I got you some answers.

QUESTION: Wait, I have one about Germany if you’re —

MS. HARF: Okay. I did —

QUESTION: No, Germany.

MS. HARF: — get Lucas some answers, though.

QUESTION: Are you staying on Germany? I just want to know if you got a – if there was any response, reaction to this incident over the weekend where these people flashed —

MS. HARF: I did see it. I would note that local police quickly spotted the projection. They have details, but of course, we respect freedom of expression and peaceful protest in Germany and around the world.

QUESTION: Okay, so you’re not – don’t have any – you don’t really have any problem with this?

MS. HARF: Well, I strongly disagree with the message in it —

QUESTION: Fair enough. But I mean —

MS. HARF: — but support the ability of people to freely express that message. There was —

QUESTION: And you don’t – you weren’t offended by it in any way other than the fact that you don’t agree with it?

MS. HARF: Well, I mean, I don’t agree with it and I don’t think it’s appropriate, but I don’t have much more than that.

QUESTION: Okay, but – all right. But “NSA in the house” you think is not correct?

MS. HARF: I do not agree with the underlying premise of the message, Matt. And I really don’t have any more on this for you, as much as I think you probably want to push.

QUESTION: Okay, but you don’t – how can you – I’m not sure —

MS. HARF: I would rather I answer Lucas’s questions on Benghazi. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Wow. That bad?

MS. HARF: Banner day. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’m not sure you how you can under – how you can disagree —

MS. HARF: How much more analysis do you want me to do on this? I think it’s ridiculous.

QUESTION: I just don’t understand how you can disagree – of course you think it’s a stunt and ridiculous, but —

MS. HARF: It’s ridiculous, but they’re able to freely express themselves.

QUESTION: Right, exactly. But I don’t understand how you can disagree with the fundamental premise – the underlying premise of it.

MS. HARF: As we’ve said —

QUESTION: It’s true, no?

MS. HARF: — we collect intelligence of the kind that other nations do as well, and I would leave it at that.


QUESTION: Before we go to Benghazi, Marie, a couple more on Germany —

MS. HARF: Also a banner day. Let’s – before we go to Benghazi.

Yes. Go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: Given the fact that such a high-level team has gone to Germany, how do you rate the relationship between the United States and Germany right now, given that Germany has just expelled the chief spy in Germany?

MS. HARF: Well, since some of those developments, Secretary Kerry met with his German counterpart, the Foreign Minister — Steinmeier, in Vienna last week. They had a very good meeting where they discussed a host of issues – Afghanistan, Iran, Gaza, Israel – and came out and spoke to the press afterwards. I think Foreign Minister Steinmeier probably said it best when he said we have a deep strategic relationship, we have shared values, we are working together. So I think just the tone of those comments and how we are working together shows that we’re focused on the future here. And the structured dialogue is part of that private discussion about how we can work together.

QUESTION: When Mr. Earnest said that there’s concerns on both sides, are there concerns on Germans’ side – or excuse me, on the United States’s side that Germany is spying on the U.S.?

MS. HARF: I don’t think I would further delineate what those concerns are.

QUESTION: Okay. And moving to Benghazi —

MS. HARF: Moving to Benghazi.

QUESTION: — is there any follow-up on the questions I asked yesterday?

MS. HARF: Yes, I got answers to both of your questions.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Just give me one second here. It’s a page to the front of my book.

Okay, so on the question about Ansar al-Sharia supposedly moving in next door, we have no record of the presence of Ansar al-Sharia in close proximity to our Benghazi facilities. We have received no warnings of their presence. We just have nothing to corroborate that at all, period.

On the question of the machine gun, on August 22nd, 2012, shortly before the attacks, obviously, a list requesting physical security improvements was submitted to Embassy Tripoli from Benghazi. It did include this request for a belt-fed weapon. This – the Embassy never accepted or rejected, never ruled one way or another on this proposal before the attack. Obviously, it happened – the request – the list was made right before the attack. They were still under review when the special mission was attacked, and obviously that request never came to main State as well.


MS. HARF: And regardless, I would – you yesterday mentioned aesthetics or something being denied. Nothing was denied here, but also would argue that that’s not why we would deny security.

QUESTION: So would —

QUESTION: What was the date?

MS. HARF: August 22nd.

QUESTION: So we can just chalk this up to bureaucratic —

MS. HARF: Yes, Lucas, that there’s a process here, and that Benghazi sent on August 22nd a list requesting physical security improvements. One of these things was that. The Embassy was still reviewing it in Tripoli when the special mission was attacked. It never came to main State and they had not ruled on it one way or the other. But I would also caution you from thinking that any one thing could have prevented the tragedy that happened that day. I know it’s a tempting argument to make, but unfortunately, it’s not based in reality.

QUESTION: And just to follow up on Samir’s question yesterday about ISIS in Iraq and persecuting Christians, is there any update from the podium about any special ambassador for international religious freedom that might be able to – better equipped to deal with this kind of issue?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re very well-equipped to deal with this kind of issue. We have a number of people working on it. I don’t have an update for you on that. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Would you agree that when President Obama goes to the Dutch embassy and signs a book of condolence – largely it’s a ceremonial gesture. Would a nomination – would you agree that a nomination of this position of international – ambassador of international religious freedom, it would set – it’d be better optics, given —

MS. HARF: Why is it related in any way to the President signing a ceremonial book? I don’t see the link, and obviously, we’re committed to religious freedom regardless of whether or not there’s someone in that position.

QUESTION: Because it’s a gesture that says that we care.

MS. HARF: Well, we do care. We care very deeply, and I will see if there’s an update on any sort of nominations for you.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to the – this machine gun thing?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Sorry, the request from the —

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: That’s – if I’m – unless I’m bad – really bad at my math and about the days of the month in August, which I believe there are 31, right?

MS. HARF: I don’t know.

QUESTION: I think there are 31. So that would be 20 days. Do you know – I mean, and this isn’t meant to be accusatory – is that a normal —

MS. HARF: I like when you preface – the other questions are.

QUESTION: No, it’s not. I just want to know if —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: — a request like this normally takes longer to —

MS. HARF: I think it depends on what the request – yes. Many times, particularly for routine security or requests like this, they do take much longer. If there’s something urgent, obviously – I don’t have any information indicating this was an urgent request.

QUESTION: A belt-fed machine gun wasn’t an urgent – I don’t know.

MS. HARF: I don’t either.

QUESTION: I mean, that doesn’t – it seems a little bit – I mean, it’s not like —

MS. HARF: Let’s not jump to —

QUESTION: — the embassy in Berlin is asking for a belt-fed machine gun.

MS. HARF: Let’s not – let’s not jump to conclusions here, Matt.

QUESTION: I don’t want to.

MS. HARF: It was on a list – well, you are, and I’m going to walk you back from it. It was on a list of requests made from Benghazi to the embassy in Tripoli. Obviously, we take security very seriously.


MS. HARF: It hadn’t been – this list hadn’t been ruled on one way or another.

QUESTION: I know, but okay, what else was on the list? Toilet paper?

MS. HARF: I can look.

QUESTION: I mean, was it routine, or was the other stuff like —

MS. HARF: It’s my understanding that it was routine.


MS. HARF: Let me check.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Marie, could I go to the issue of the Mosul Christians?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: I mean, this is – for the first time in 1,800 years, these people have been uprooted and thrown out of their home. I mean, are you just resigned to just issuing condemnations? I mean —

MS. HARF: Absolutely not, Said.

QUESTION: — they appropriated their property —

MS. HARF: We take the humanitarian situation very seriously.

QUESTION: — they are forcing people to convert to Islam. I mean, they have done some really horrible, brutal things.

MS. HARF: They have. And we have worked very closely with the United Nations and other NGOs about the humanitarian situation. Since June, we have announced a new $13.8 million in humanitarian assistance to international organization partners working to help displaced persons and conflict victims in Iraq. This is helping across the board – obviously, not just with Christians, but this is part of our ongoing humanitarian effort.

Also, on July 3rd, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne Richard met with officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government to discuss – to thank them for their hosting of IDPs, to discuss ways we can help with the displaced Iraqis. So we’re constantly engaged on the topic.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Yes. Right here – we’ll go across that row and then end with Matt. Go ahead.

QUESTION: India. There are some reports saying that when Mr. Secretary Kerry was at Egyptian presidential palace to meet President al-Sisi, he was detected – he was searched by a metal detector.

MS. HARF: There is no story here. I – regardless of the fact that some of the reporters there, I think, were tweeting about it, there was really no story here. I talked to the folks on the ground and they were quite frankly surprised by the attention paid.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Do you have anything on the United States warning civilian airlines fly to North Korean airspace site?

MS. HARF: Let me check. I don’t know the answer to that. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: On Turkey, today – (laughter).

MS. HARF: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I thought you said next week. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: Go ahead.

QUESTION: There has been an operation going on today since last night. About 100 police chiefs been arrested. What’s your reaction? How do you view —

MS. HARF: I hadn’t seen that. I’m happy to check on that.

I think you also asked maybe yesterday at the end about the U.S.-Turkey working group. They are meeting here today. Deputy Secretary Burns met with the Turkish Foreign Ministry under secretary; chaired a meeting today of the working group, whose discussions focused on how the U.S. and Turkey can further strengthen our coordination on security, counterterrorism, and refugee issues, particularly with respect to the crises in Syria and Iraq.


MS. HARF: Yes – oh wait, did you have one more?

QUESTION: No, I don’t think.

MS. HARF: Okay. Okay. Lucas, one more.

QUESTION: One more, just on Iran.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Earlier today, the IAEA issued a report saying that they are concerned about Iran’s lack of engagement with investigation into their nuclear program and the deadline was forthcoming. Iran has another deadline, apparently. And I was just wondering —

MS. HARF: So that’s a separate issue from the ongoing negotiations. The IAEA did acknowledge – first, let’s talk about the IAEA’s report on July 20th, which confirmed Iranian compliance with 14 specific measures agreed to under the Joint Plan of Action. So basically, at the end of the first six months here, the IAEA has confirmed that they have upheld their obligations under the Joint Plan of Action. There are, of course, outstanding concerns that Iran has been working with directly with the IAEA, which is separate from the P5+1 process. We agreed with the IAEA’s concerns, obviously, which is part of the main reason we are at the negotiating table trying to get a comprehensive agreement here. We know Iran has more work to do with the IAEA.

QUESTION: Is this another area where you think Iran is making progress?

MS. HARF: Progress in what way?

QUESTION: You just said you share the concerns with the IAEA over this nuclear problem?

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly share the concerns. We’ve said in the negotiations room – the negotiating table, we have made progress. But we’ve also said if you looked at what the Secretary said in Vienna that there are some very large gaps that remain. So clearly, that’s why we said we needed a little more time to address them.

QUESTION: Can I just ask, Marie, on the – under the JPOA, there was 7 million – 7 billion, sorry, that was going to be transferred in various tranches.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So has that all – has that all been transferred now?

MS. HARF: Yeah. We have – the last tranche was, I believe, was at the very end of this. So it’s my understanding that we have fulfilled all of our obligations in terms of releasing that money. We obviously don’t hold it, right? It’s held overseas. So we’ve upheld our end of what we’re supposed to do here, and then it’s up to the Iranians to figure out how they’re going to get it back. But we’ve released it and done what we needed to do.

QUESTION: And have the Iranians done – because it was in return for each step —

MS. HARF: Yes, and they have – they have. They have fulfilled all of their obligations under the Joint Plan of Action.

QUESTION: Okay. So my next question is, under the extension Secretary Kerry mentioned in his statement there would be 2.8 billion that would released —

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: — over the next four months.

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: Do you have a detail – a calendar of how that will be handed out in tranches and what the Iranians have to do in return to get – for getting it?

MS. HARF: So let me get the schedule for you after this; I thought I had it in here. The 2.8 is prorated at the same rate that the money was released under the six months. So it’s the exact same rate. They’re not getting anything additional. It’s just prorated. If you take the amount of money they got over six months and prorate it for four —

QUESTION: So – but it was about 550 billion – million they were getting each month.

MS. HARF: Well, take out – so two of those – at least two of those installments were for specific things they had to do with their – in terms of conversion or dilution of their uranium stockpile. The others were just monthly payments, so I believe it’s – let me check on the – but I know it’s prorated for one of the two.

QUESTION: It would be helpful if we could have the schedule of what they have to do in return.

MS. HARF: Yep. Well, so there’s not – the things are linked up one to one, right? So we have agreed to continue payments at the prorated amount we did for the first six months. But the additional steps Iran has committed to take as part of the extension – they have committed to convert 25 kg of its 20 percent enriched uranium oxide into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor and continue converting that oxide into plates in a timely manner until all of the oxide has been converted into fuel. Why this matters is because in this form, Iran would find it difficult and time-consuming to use this 20 percent enriched material for further enrichment in a breakout session. So that’s why it’s significant that they’re converting it into fuel plates.

They also – I have all of this in here, sorry – Secretary’s statement – so they agreed to do that. Let me see, I think that’s – that’s it.

QUESTION: But they don’t have differences? They don’t have to by the end of August have to have done 5 kilos and – kg —

MS. HARF: Well, they have to – everything they committed to in the Joint Plan of Action in terms of not moving the program forward and freezing it – all of that stays. So everything they’ve already committed to doing, that all remains in place. They can’t install things that – Arak, they can’t – all of the things that we’ve said they can’t do, they still cannot do. In addition, they’ve committed to converting this into fuel plates, which again, we think is a significant step. We have agreed to provide payments metered out at the same rate we did for the first six months.

QUESTION: Marie, you said – I know you said that there’s no date been set yet for the resumption of talks.

MS. HARF: That is true.

QUESTION: But when are they likely to start? Because —

MS. HARF: I don’t know.

QUESTION: — August is like a vacation month for everybody —

MS. HARF: Well, not for the United States of America, it’s not.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) All right.

MS. HARF: Look, I think the next four months will be a combination of sort of the big P5+1 plus EU meetings we have with the Iranians, bilaterals we’ll have directly with the Iranians, experts meetings we’ll all have. So I think you’ll see a combination of that over the coming four months. We certainly are not seeing August as a vacation month as much as I would like to, although we won’t brief on Fridays, per our tradition. A little bit of news for you all today.

One more?


MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Indonesia.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: There was an election.

MS. HARF: There was an election.

QUESTION: What do you think of it?

MS. HARF: The United States looks forward to working with President-elect Widodo – is that how you say it? I think so – to enhance the partnership between our two countries and promote our shared interests. We congratulate the Indonesian people for, again, demonstrating their commitment to democracy through free and fair elections. I think if we have not already, we would be putting out a statement from the Secretary as well.

QUESTION: On the election?

MS. HARF: I believe so, yes.

One last one?

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: On a different topic. Do you know if the State Department is going to host the annual Iftar this week?

MS. HARF: I believe we were going to tonight. I know there was some question about whether we would, given the Secretary’s traveling. Let me check on that for you. I don’t know the answer. Let me check.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:32 p.m.)