This is how the pros do it and the Clinton/Obama folk are pros, make no mistake:
The US State Department rebuffed speculation that the administration of President Barack Obama was considering imposing economic sanctions against Israel in order to prevent it from continuing West Bank settlement construction.
Spokesman Phillip Crowley told reporters on Thursday that remarks made by deputy spokesman Robert Wood earlier this week had been “misinterpreted.”
Asked at a press briefing on Tuesday whether the US was considering putting financial pressure on Israel to get it to comply with US demands, Wood had said: “It’s premature to talk about that.“
I’ve written in the past about Obama gradually tightening a noose around Israeli settlement policy until gradually (or so the hope goes) there will be no choice but to accommodate to U.S. pressure to change it. And this is part of the process.
What is deft about this particular series of statements is that the U.S. both plants the idea that it may be willing to consider sanctions if all else fails; and immediately denies the import of the statement in order to make it appear it was a mistake. But the seed has been planted. Now everyone in the Netanyahu government and the Israel lobby is aware of what the next step could be. They know what’s in store if they continue trying to play hardball regarding the settlement freeze and related issues.