In a little-noticed exchange from the State Department on Friday, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland openly refused to say whether an Israeli ground assault on Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip would fall under the Israeli right to self-defense. Here’s how the exchange went:
QUESTION: On de-escalating – you keep saying de-escalating. Now, specifically, did you ask the Israelis or did you request that Israel does not conduct a land invasion of Gaza, which it is preparing to do?
MS. NULAND: To reiterate, Israel has a right of self-defense. I am not going to get into our private messages with any of the parties that we’ve been speaking to —
QUESTION: So, would the —
MS. NULAND: — beyond saying that we are seeking a de-escalation, we are seeking a peaceful settlement of this.
QUESTION: So you would consider the land invasion of Gaza as part of Israel’s right to self-defense?
MS. NULAND: I am not going to speak about tactics or any of our messages privately to one side or the other. I’m also not going to speak about hypotheticals, Said.
QUESTION: But are you —
MS. NULAND: That was a good effort, though.
In the past, the State Department has refused to label Jerusalem Israel’s capital. Now they follow up that diplomatically egregious blunder with this asinine position. The State Department even refuses to say whether it has told Israel to de-escalate the violence, even as it calls for de-escalation over the Gaza violence. The Obama administration is leading from behind once again.