The Netanyahu-Kerry meeting: A tale of two readouts

In the US' telling, the discussion was not about terror against Israelis, but rather more generic “violence” happening in “Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

November 24, 2015 16:35
1 minute read.
Kerry Netanyahu

Secretary of State John Kerry with PM Benjamin Netanyahu the PM's Residence, Jerusalem nov. 24, 2015. (photo credit: MATTY STERN, US EMBASSY TEL AVIV)

Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s more than four-hour meeting Tuesday with US Secretary of State John Kerry, the two sides separately issued one paragraph readouts of the meeting that were just slightly – but rather tellingly – different.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office readout in Hebrew, the two discussed “steps to be taken to end the wave of terrorism against Israeli citizens and return the quiet and stability.”

According to this readout, then, the two leaders discussed how to stop the terrorism against Israeli citizens.
US Secretary of State John Kerry meets PM Netanyahu

The State Department readout in English, however, said the two men discussed “steps that can be taken to stop the violence in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank and improve conditions on the ground.” In the US telling, the discussion was not about terrorism against Israelis, but rather more generic “violence” happening in “Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

Kerry headed for Ramallah after meeting Netanyahu, and the Palestinian leadership has been critical of his use of the word “terrorism” to describe the recent events, while not criticizing Israel for what they claim is “excessive force” against the attackers.

Another difference in the Netanyahu and Kerry readouts was that while Netanyahu’s statement said they discussed ways of restoring “quiet and stability,” Kerry’s statement said they talked about steps to improve “conditions on the ground.” That, for instance, could be interpreted to mean many things, including a call for Israel to improve conditions for the Palestinians, such as allowing them to develop projects in Area C, which is under Israeli control.

Another slight difference was that while the PMO said Kerry offered his condolences to “the Israeli victims of the latest terrorist attacks,” Kerry’s statement read that he “expressed sympathy and condolences for victims of recent terrorist attacks.”

Both statements agreed that the two men discussed regional security issues with a focus on Syria and Islamic State. They also both said that they discussed ways in which the US and Israel could strengthen the security cooperation between them in the face of the regional instability.

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