QUESTION: What's your thoughts about the Israeli Prime Minister bowing out of the scene? Do you see this affecting the peace process at all?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that's a matter for Israeli domestic politics. The fact is, when you see, within much of the Israeli body politic, a movement and desire for peace - certainly, that is the view of Prime Minister Olmert and his government, including Foreign Minister Livni, who's the lead negotiator. So any matters of configuration within the context of Israeli politics are for the Israeli people and their leaders to decide.
Anything else on this?
QUESTION: Yeah. Sean, it doesn't seem that the main figures of the Israeli Government share the same view you're presenting here, like Olmert? Prime Minister Olmert on Monday excluded Jerusalem from any agreement. Today, Shaul Mofaz is departing Israel on his way to the U.S. He said, and I'm quoting, "At this time of change in the government, we must not reach agreements on the core issues in negotiations with the Palestinians." So what kind of hope are you talking about if the Israelis, within their government, are not agreed on reaching any agreement?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the Secretary got this question yesterday in her press conference, and she said we have been assured that the commitment of the Israeli Government, from the top down to the negotiating ranks, remains the same, that everybody is committed to the same goals that they stated in Annapolis. Those are as I have told you. We are all working towards an agreement in '08.
QUESTION: Even Minister Mofaz?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I'll let Minister Mofaz and any other individual member of the Israeli Government speak for themselves. But we have been given assurances, as the Secretary said yesterday, that that is their commitment. And I think the fact that you have the negotiators here today is one indicator of that commitment. And like I said, we are going to continue to push this process along. The Secretary is committed to it. The President is committed to it. We've stated what our objectives are. We've stated what our goals are. Those are unchanged.
At the same time, we have a process here. And it's a process that has given the Palestinian people, the Israeli people, people of the region, some hope that we can succeed. Our goals remain the same. But again, at the same time, the Secretary is not going to be in the position where she irretrievably breaks a process that has hope of bringing peace to the region.
QUESTION: Would you advise the Palestinian - one more question, one follow-up. Would you advise the Palestinians to sign an agreement, even if it doesn't include all the main issues?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I've stated what our goals are. I don't want to have to repeat those for you. Fundamentally, this is about the two parties coming to an agreement. We can help, we can push, we can prod, we can cajole, we can offer our good offices. But ultimately, they have to come to an agreement. Nobody can do that for them. And if they are not invested in an agreement and if they are not bringing their publics along with them to support an agreement, then it won't succeed, simple as that.
You know, we can't want peace more than the parties do. What you saw at Annapolis is that the parties have, at a fundamental level, committed to trying to achieve peace because they understand what's at stake for their people and for the region. So that is the spirit in which the people with whom we are working are negotiating and we haven't detected any deviation from that course.
QUESTION: Sean, I just want to follow up on what you just said, that the process has given the Israelis and Palestinians hope. And it obviously has and both sides have said that they're committed to the process --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: -- and they feel that a process is better than no process and - but I think that there is a difference between being committed to trying and being concerned on the Israeli and Palestinian part that they may not be able to get it done. And is - are you and the Administration and the Secretary - I mean, obviously, you're going to keep trying towards the end of the year. But if you've made gains and you don't have a deal, I mean, isn't that progress in itself? I mean, is it an all-or-nothing thing for you guys?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Elise, I've tried to explain the nuance of this to you. And ultimately, it comes down to a matter of judgment. And that's why you - you know, that's why, you know, the Secretary and the President and other members of the foreign policy/national security team get paid the big bucks to make those kinds of judgments. Again, there's something inherent to our nature that causes us to be optimistic - it's - that causes us to try to push things as far as they can possibly go, sometimes beyond people's comfort zones. And if you want to try to crack a really tough problem, probably one of the toughest foreign policy problems that we have out there - it's existed for decades - you know, maybe the parties have to go outside their comfort zone. We'll see. And we'll see if they're ready to do that, see if they're willing to do that. We've always said it will require tough compromises on everybody's part.
So we'll test that. You know, to import - I told you this morning - import a engineering concept into foreign policy, we'll test the tolerances of the process....