"Why should anyone not believe that Israel is controlling U.S. foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East?"

Here it is — word for word: State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack being grilled by journalists (mostly AP’s Matthew Lee, it seems) on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s remarks yesterday that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was “shamed” after he called her boss, U.S. President George Bush, to make sure she would not vote in favor of the adoption of UN SC Resolution 1860 last Thursday:

QUESTION: Yeah. Given Prime Minister Olmert’s comments yesterday, why should – why should anyone still – or why should anyone not believe that Israel is controlling U.S. foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East?

MR. MCCORMACK: I did see the reports of his comments, and let me just start off by saying I don’t know the context of the comments. I don’t know if they are reported accurately. I don’t know if the Israeli Government would say, yes, that is an accurate quote.

What I can tell you is that the quotes as reported are wholly inaccurate as to describing the situation – just 100 percent, totally, completely not true. And I can – you know, I can vouch for that, having been up there at the United Nations the entire time, witnessed Secretary Rice’s deliberations with her advisors. I knew about the phone calls that she was doing and I can tell you a couple things.

One, very early on in the process, as far back as Wednesday, the Secretary decided that we were – we, the United States, weren’t going to be put in a position of vetoing a resolution, made the decision to support going forward with a resolution. At that point, there was a debate whether or not we were going to try to get a presidential statement or a resolution. We decided that point – at that point that we were going to go for a resolution and we weren’t going to be – if we could get one that was agreeable to all the members of the Security Council, we weren’t going to be in a position to veto it.

Second, that afternoon, all that afternoon, Thursday afternoon, Secretary Rice’s recommendation and inclination the entire time was to abstain, for the reasons that she described both during the Security Council session and subsequently in interviews. So I can tell you with 100 percent assurance that her intention was 100 percent to recommend abstention. She, of course, consulted with Steve Hadley at the White House as well as with the President. I’ll let the White House describe any interactions between the President and Prime Minister Olmert. But – so this idea that somehow she was turned around on this issue is 100 percent, completely untrue.

QUESTION: How could the prime minister of Israel get such a – you know, how – he certainly is under the impression that he singlehandedly prevented the United States from voting for this resolution. Why would he – why would –

MR. MCCORMACK: Matt – Matt, I –

QUESTION: How could he –

MR. MCCORMACK: You would have – you’d – Matt, I can’t tell you. You would have to –

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCORMACK: And again, I can’t – you know, I can’t posit and vouch for the – whether those remarks are accurate.
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