(WASHINGTON) — At a State Department briefing Monday, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked about the diplomatic progress to end the violence in Gaza. Over the weekend, Nuland released a statement detailing the telephone calls Secretary Clinton made to five different allies, underscoring the intense diplomacy taking place behind the scenes to try and de-escalate the situation.
But Monday, when reporters questioned Nuland on the specifics of what the U.S. is doing, Nuland refused at least 11 times to discuss any details of the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts, frustrating the press corps.
Reporters took the spokesperson to task for her non-answers, wondering why if leaders of allies such as Turkey and Egypt are forcefully speaking out against Israel while also helping to negotiate a ceasefire, the United States has not just as forcefully spoken out in defense of the Jewish state.
When questioned about whether “quiet diplomacy” is helping in negotiations, Nuland simply responded, “We are working hard with the parties.”
One reporter continued to push, accusing the U.S. of “staying silent while people are dying left and right,” and criticized the State Department for not responding to Turkey’s president calling Israel’s actions “acts of terror” against the Palestinians.
“I’m not going to get into a public spitting match with allies on either side. We’re just not going to do that, OK?” said Nuland.
After several minutes of the contentious exchange an exasperated Nuland finally responded, “We of course agree that rhetorical attacks against Israel are not helpful at this moment. Is that what you were looking for?”
Nuland did respond to questions about calls from members of Congress to have aid in Egypt re-evaluated if the country does not reign in Hamas. She said, “There’s no stipulation with regard to this issue in legislation,” but that Congress still has to approve the release of appropriated funds, and that the State Department is still working with the hill on getting economic support funds released.
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