Reprinted from Mondoweiss
Oh what a night. The divide between the U.S. and Israel just gets wider and wider. The White House and the State Department yesterday said openly that the Obama administration is restricting the information it gives to Israel about the Iran talks because Israel is misrepresenting the talks in its efforts to derail them. There is "no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate," the White House press secretary says.
A friend asks, Has the US ever publicly stated that an ally was a liar? AP's Matt Lee, who said at State yesterday that the Obama administration is saying that Israel is "lying," calls the statements "extraordinary" in his article:
"In extraordinary admissions that reflect increasingly strained ties between the U.S. and Israel, the White House and State Department said they were not sharing everything from the negotiations with the Israelis and complained that Israeli officials had misrepresented what they had been told in the past. Meanwhile, senior U.S. officials privately blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself for 'changing the dynamic' of previously robust information-sharing by politicizing it."
And meantime, it turns out from the State Department briefing that no one is going to be around to meet Netanyahu when he comes to town to give his March 3 speech. The president won't meet him. The VP won't meet him. And now the Secretary of State will be out of town.
Let's go to the record. From Josh Earnest's press briefing yesterday at the White House: We're going to continue to consult with Israel about the Iran talks, but...
"...we've also been very clear about the fact that the United States is not going to be in a position of negotiating this agreement in public, and particularly when we see that there is a continued practice of cherry picking specific pieces of information and using them out of context to distort the negotiating position of the United States. So there is an obligation when you're participating in these kinds of negotiations to ensure that those consultations and that those negotiations are carried out in good faith. And that means giving negotiators the room and the space to negotiate.
Q: So you are consulting, but you are worried about cherry picking? So does that still limit the information that you provide during those consultations?
MR. EARNEST: Well, Jim, I obviously am not going to be able to get into the details of those conversations, I think for obvious reasons, but I think it is fair to say that the United States is mindful of the need to not negotiate in public and ensure that information that's discussed at the negotiating table is not taken out of context and publicized in a way that distorts a negotiating position of the United States and our allies.
Q: And you think that distortion and cherry picking has occurred -- has been done by the Israelis?
MR. EARNEST: Well, there's no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate. There's no question about that."
The State Department briefing yesterday reflects the new cherrypicking reality. The spokesperson is Jen Psaki (who today is reported to be going over to the White House to lead the communications team there).
QUESTION: I understand that you share a great deal, but you're saying that you don't share everything. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Correct.
QUESTION: Okay. So you are withholding some details.
MS. PSAKI: Correct.