QUESTION: All right. And then the visit to Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif by Israelis, is that – does the Administration consider that to be visits to there – does the Administration consider that to be incitement?
MR KIRBY: I’m not going to be able to characterize every single act with terminology. What the Secretary has said and stands by is that we want to see the status quo restored, the status quo arrangement there on Haram al-Sharif and the Temple Mount, and for both sides to take actions to de-escalate the tensions. So incitement can take many forms. Again, I’m not going to – I’m not going to go through a laundry list of what is or what isn’t. I mean, the Secretary spoke specifically about incitement yesterday, and we recognize that incitement can go both ways here. But it’s the – whether it’s action or rhetoric, it’s things that encourage others to continue this cycle of violence, it’s just not helpful and not going to get us to what we really want to see there.
QUESTION: Is it the Administration’s position that the status quo at the Temple Mount has been broken?
MR KIRBY: Well, certainly, the status quo has not been observed, which has led to a lot of the violence.
...QUESTION: So I just have two extremely brief ones, so we can move on after that. You said in answer to my question on the status quo whether – at the Temple Mount whether it’s been broken or not, you said that it has not been observed and that is what has led to – I think. I’ll go back and look at the transcript, but I think you said it had not been – it was not – has not been observed and that is what has led to a great deal of the violence. That certainly sounds like you’re affixing some kind of blame to Israel if this is, in fact, what the Administration believes has led to the violence – the visits by – visit by Israelis to --
MR KIRBY: Well, it’s not about believing it, Matt. I mean, you just looked at what’s been happening in that – on Haram al-Sharif and the Temple Mount recently. I mean, just if we’re looking at this in acute – through an acute lens, I mean, the activity there, the status quo not being observed, has led to violence. There’s – that’s indisputable. That’s not a belief; that’s a fact.
QUESTION: Okay. But that --
MR KIRBY: Now, but it’s not about – but it’s not about affixing blame on one side or the other. There’s a status quo there. There’s a status quo --
QUESTION: It certainly sounds like it, no?
MR KIRBY: No, there’s a status quo there that we want to see restored, and the status quo has worked in the past in keeping things calm.When the words "status quo" are used in relation to the Temple Mount, it is always an accusation on Israel. No one outside Israel has accused Arabs of violating the status quo, even though they have done it numerous times, including building an entire huge mosque underground while destroying priceless Jewish artifacts.
There is no doubt as to the meaning of these words.
And after people called him on it, spokesperson John Kirby retracted on Twitter:
But it is worse than that, because it sure sounds from the first paragraph quoted above like the State Department is saying that Jews visiting their holiest spot is a form of incitement, as is one of those "things that encourage others to continue this cycle of violence, it’s just not helpful and not going to get us to what we really want to see there."Clarification from today's briefing: I did not intend to suggest that status quo at Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif has been broken.— John Kirby (@statedeptspox) October 15, 2015