White House: No coordination with Erekat, leaked transcript ‘total fabrication’
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White House: No coordination with Erekat, leaked transcript ‘total fabrication’

NSC spokesman denies Egyptian report that Palestinian negotiator held meeting with Kerry, Rice to strategize anti-settlement resolution acceptable to US

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

US President Barack Obama holds a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, December 16, 2016. (AFP Photo/Zach Gibson)
US President Barack Obama holds a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, December 16, 2016. (AFP Photo/Zach Gibson)

WASHINGTON — The White House on Wednesday denied any coordination with the Palestinians over the formulation of Friday’s United Nations Security Council Resolution condemning Israeli settlements, and called recently leaked transcripts of conversations between top US and Palestinian officials, published by an Egyptian newspaper, a “total fabrication.”

According to the report in Al-Youm Al-Sabea, a meeting took place earlier this month between Secretary of State John Kerry, national security adviser Susan Rice and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, during which the three strategized on how to push forward a resolution that would be acceptable to the US.

While Erekat did lead a Palestinian delegation to Washington this month, no such meeting between all three individuals took place, according to National Security Council spokesman Ned Price.

A State Department statement released at the time confirmed that Erekat met separately with Kerry and Rice, but no tripartite meeting between all of them occurred, said Price.

“This alleged meeting… never happened,” Price told The Times of Israel on Wednesday morning. “The ‘transcript’ is a total fabrication.”

Erekat, for his part, denied the contents of the leaked transcripts, telling the Palestinian WAFA News Agency: “The leaked minutes are lies and half-truths.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) seen with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at the Palestinian Presidential compound in Ramallah on July 23, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) seen with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at the Palestinian Presidential compound in Ramallah on July 23, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Since Resolution 2334 was passed Friday, Israel has been fuming, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides accusing the US of colluding with Palestinians and other Security Council member-states to pass a measure critical of Israel.

The resolution states that the settlement enterprise “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law” and calls for a complete end to all construction in areas Israel gained after the 1967 Six Day War.

The text was approved by 14-0, with the United States abstaining.

PMO spokesman David Keyes and Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer have each spoken to multiple US media organizations recently to say Israel has “ironclad information” that demonstrates the US worked to push the resolution forward. Keyes has said this evidence comes from the Arab diplomatic sources.

Dermer said it will present its evidence to President-elect Donald Trump’s team and allow it to decide whether to share the information with the American public.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary Of State John Kerry in New York on September 23, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary Of State John Kerry in New York on September 23, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Responding to the recent UN censure, Israel has hauled in envoys from countries that passed the measure for rebuke and has sanctioned several of them, reducing ties and aid programs and canceling meetings.

Defending these moves, the Israeli premier said, “Israel is a country with national pride, and we do not turn the other cheek.”

“This is a responsible, measured and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the UN is unacceptable to us,” Netanyahu added on Monday.

Kerry, meanwhile, is slated to deliver a highly anticipated address Wednesday laying out his “comprehensive vision” for Israeli-Palestinian peace and how future administrations can take the issue forward.

Defending the US abstention — and decision to not veto — the resolution Friday, Kerry said in a statement the move would “preserve the possibility of peace.”

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