Why do they keep calling on “Helen”:
Q Did you find out anything more about the Israeli apartments, the U.S. role in that?
MS. PERINO: It’s a little bit unclear as to what the announcement actually was, so we continue to look into that. Let me go back to one thing, which is that the President has said that he believes that President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert are two leaders who are committed to working on a final status agreement by the end of the year. At the same time, the President noted when he was on his trip — well, back at the Annapolis Conference in November of 2007, and then on his trip in the Middle East in January, just last month, that there are going to be issues that are going to be very difficult for both sides to work through, and that what’s most important is that the leaders remember that they need to continue to look at the big picture, and let their negotiators deal with the specifics of the issues.
We know that their two negotiators, their foreign ministers, recently met. We understand that they had a good meeting. And hopefully they will be able to continue to meet. And we’re going to continue to monitor and press them and push them to make sure that they can seize the opportunity that’s in front of them.
Q Are you afraid to take a stand on this issue? I mean, they are taking land, Palestinian land, that doesn’t belong to them.
MS. PERINO: I think that’s — what I said, Helen, is that we understand that this is an issue that’s going to have to be worked out between the two. It is not clear if these were new — this was a new announcement, or if it was a reiteration of an old position. So while we’ll look into that, we will say that on these issues of settlements and borders, refugees, all of these issues are going to be very difficult, not to mention the issues of security that Israel is concerned about.
Q Well, when you keep taking other people’s land, and you keep worrying about your security — talk about the big picture. Think of the Palestinians losing all their homes and land.
MS. PERINO: I think the President thinks of both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and especially — he is a President, and the first President who has called for the Palestinians to have a state of their own, so that they could live in peace and security.
Q Let’s see — where is it?
MS. PERINO: Well, part of what we have to get through this year is a discussion between the Israelis and the Palestinians for a final status agreement, and that’s what we’re working towards.