State Department Walks Back Spokesperson’s Comments Referring to ‘Palestine’

Jalina Porter

The State Department has walked back comments made last week that the Biden administration is engaged in strategic talks related to “Palestine,” the Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday.

The State Department’s spokeswoman, Jalina Porter, to whom the report referred to as “controversy-prone,” mentioned at a press briefing last week that officials were engaged in talks with Palestinian officials “surrounding Palestine” – a nonexistent state.

“Any time that we engage on issues of, surrounding Palestine they are strategic,” she said.

The report noted:

Porter’s reference to “Palestine” stunned State Department officials because it would represent a monumental shift in decades of U.S. policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sources told the Washington Free Beacon. The State Department’s longstanding policy, upheld across multiple administrations, is that “Palestine” refers to the conditions on the ground prior to Israel’s creation in 1948, and that any new nation called “Palestine” will have to be forged in direct negotiations between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.

“There is no change to our policy,” a State Department spokesman told the Free Beacon. “We believe that a negotiated two-state solution is the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Biden-Harris administration also believes both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom and prosperity. Our interest remains in supporting peace and stability which requires thoughtful and constructive engagement with both Israeli and Palestinian leadership.”

According to the report, Porter’s frequent blunders are causing consternation in the administration.

“She often goes off script from established policy and agreed upon talking points, causing gaffes that confuse allies and journalists alike,” the anonymous source told the Free Beacon. “Career State Department staff have grown increasingly frustrated, as we are often the ones having to clean up after her verbal messes. It’s gotten to the point where the building doesn’t know what to do with her or how to help her.”

In May, Porter criticized Israel as tensions rose with the Palestinians during an 11 day conflict with Gaza. The State Department later walked back those comments too.

Len Khodorkovsky, former deputy assistant secretary of state during the Trump administration, called Porter out for breaking with decades of U.S. policy.

“The State Department’s deputy spokesperson should know that language matters, especially in diplomacy,” Khodorkovsky said. “There is a reason the State Department does not call Judea and Samaria ‘Palestine.’ Those territories are disputed and their final status should be resolved by the parties involved, not by the deputy spokeswoman.”

Khodorkovsky also said there is “no formal strategic dialogue between the United States and the Palestinian Authority,” as Porter claimed.

Porter was also criticized in the past for calling police “terrorist cops.”


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