UBS TO PAY $1.5B TO SETTLE INTEREST RATE CASE
BY JOHN HEILPRIN
GENEVA (AP) -- Swiss banking giant UBS AG said Wednesday it has admitted to fraud and agreed to pay some $1.5 billion to U.S., British and Swiss authorities in a probe into the rigging of global benchmark interest rates.
The settlement caps a tough year for Switzerland's biggest bank, which is one of several leading banks that has been under investigation over allegations of manipulating the benchmark LIBOR interest rate, short for London interbank offered rate. It is used to set the interest rates on trillions of dollars in contracts around the world, including mortgages and credit cards.
And by-the-by, Israel is now "provocative" in a ratching up from State:-
In unusually rare and blunt criticism* of its top Mideast ally, the Obama administration on Tuesday slammed Israel for continuing to announce new settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians.
The State Department accused Israel of engaging in a "pattern of provocative action" that calls into question statements from Israeli leaders that they are committed to peace. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said settlement activity only puts the goal of peace "further at risk" and urged both Israel and the Palestinians to halt all provocations and take steps to revive long-stalled peace talks.
"We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action," Nuland told reporters. "These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel's leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk."
I guess that since Arabs never build "settlements", they aren't 'provocative'?
Note, on the Turkey blockade run, she avoids the term 'provocation':-
QUESTION: Okay. Well, one of the things that the Secretary said yesterday in – when – in her comments to this was that attempts to go into Israeli waters were provocative and irresponsible. And it’s my understanding that the flotilla organizers do not intend to go into Israeli waters but in – they will stay in international waters. Is that your understanding or is that not your understanding per what the Secretary said yesterday?
MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to the intentions of those involved in the flotilla. I think the Secretary was clear it was in response to a question yesterday --
MS. NULAND: -- as you remember, so that also speaks to the fact that publicly this issue is out there, that we do not want to see the bad situation of last year repeated. We do believe that channels exist for providing humanitarian aid to Gaza in a safe and secure way and that that situation is improving. And we urge all NGOs who want to participate in that to use those channels.
QUESTION: But does a flotilla sitting in international waters off the Gaza – off the coast of Gaza, is that a problem for the U.S.?
MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t want to get into the Law of the Sea issues here. I simply want to say that we don’t want to see a conflict at sea, on land. We want to see appropriate legitimate channels used for the --
QUESTION: I understand, but in the briefing that just preceded this --
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: -- you talked about wanting to – in another instance, in the South China Sea, the U.S. has been very concerned about the freedom of navigation.
But later used it:
MS. NULAND: Well, thank you for that, Arshad. We are quite concerned, as I said yesterday. We are talking to both the Israelis and the Turks. We are urging both sides to refrain from rhetoric or actions that could be provocative, that could contribute to tensions.
Hillary Clinton used it in connection with North Korea:
We all agree that North Korea’s provocative and belligerent behavior jeopardizes peace and stability in Asia. We are deeply concerned by its unprovoked attack on the island of Yeonpyeong, resulting in the loss of South Korean lives. On behalf of the American people, I would like to convey our sympathies to the victims and their families. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. We want the people of South Korea to know that we are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you, and we are deeply committed to your defense.The minister and I share the view that the attack by the North Koreans violates the Armistice Agreement of 1953; that North Korea’s provocative and belligerent behavior threatens us all, and that it will be met with solidarity from all three countries.
* Full text:
QUESTION: Just staying in the region, but moving to Israel, you will have seen Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments this morning that they will continue to build in Jerusalem, East Jerusalem included, because it is the undivided and eternal capital of Israel. You will probably also have seen that the – several European countries that are members of the Security Council are talking about writing a – or drafting some kind of condemnatory language about this. So one, I’m wondering what your reaction is to the Prime Minister’s comments, and two, I’m wondering if you’ll sign on to the European expression of extreme displeasure.
MS. NULAND: Well, let me start with the second first. I don’t know that we’ve seen any particular draft from the Europeans. We obviously believe that each country ought to make its own representations to the parties, and that’s the way we’ve proceeded. And if we want to make representations as a Quartet, we’re prepared to do that.
With regard to the larger settlement issue and statements recently and actions on the ground, we are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action. These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk. So we again call on Israel and the Palestinians to cease any kinds of counterproductive unilateral actions and take concrete steps to return to direct negotiations.
QUESTION: Well, it’s --
QUESTION: Well, can I ask you – this is a far cry from what you said yesterday, and the day before, and the day before, and the day before, and the day before, and the day before. Why now are you taking this up a notch?
MS. NULAND: Because we’re concerned about the actions that have happened in the last 24 hours and the continued acceleration.
QUESTION: Do you – is it a recognition? Can I just – is it a recognition of the fact that when the Palestinians take steps that are – you think are provocative and unhelpful to the process, that those steps actually do not change things on the ground, i.e. going to the UN and asking for recognition there, and that when the Israelis do things that you think are provocative and unhelpful to the process, they actually have the effect of changing the situation on the ground and pre – affecting issues that you believe need to be decided only in negotiation?
MS. NULAND: Well, we talked about this yesterday. The number one way to settle this whole question of building and settlements is for the parties to come together and settle security, settle boundaries between them. That is the right path forward. We don’t want to see provocative action on either side. But you’re absolutely right that this strong statement today reflects concern about what’s going on.
QUESTION: But there’s no – I mean, up until now, the Palestinians haven’t had any recourse when they – when these settlements are being built. Now, as an upgraded member of the United Nations General Assembly, they do have the option of joining the International Criminal Court or other courts and pursuing this as a matter of international law. And the United States itself recognizes its settlements – that the settlements are not legal. So what incentive do you have to offer the Palestinians not to try and seek this redress in an international court when you yourself are saying that it’s provocative and it’s not legal?
MS. NULAND: Because it’s not going to change anything for a single Palestinian, and in fact, it’s going to make the environment for getting to the table, which could change the lives for Palestinians, all the harder. So if you really care about your people, if you really care about lasting peace on either side of this, the only way forward is to sit down, talk it out, and figure it out for the future.
QUESTION: But you can understand, can’t you, that they don’t want to sit down with the Israelis while they’re continuing to build these settlements? I mean, what influence do you or does even the courts – I agree they would – they completely don’t listen to that either. But what influence does anybody have over the Israelis to get them to stop building settlements?
MS. NULAND: Again, we’ve had provocative action all the way through this season. The only way to get this settled is for the parties to come back to the table. It’s not going to be settled by any of these provocative actions, and we are calling it out today.
QUESTION: A follow-up on your deep disappointment. You just said you’re deeply disappointed. I assume that you’re referring to the confiscation of about 450 acres, which is 1,200 dunams, yesterday from Abu Dis and Hazara. Now, how will this deep disappointment impact what is going on on the ground? I mean, it seems that from briefing to briefing, more land is taken.
MS. NULAND: Again, I think I just spoke about this, that the only way forward is to have a lasting settlement between these parties. But again, we are not in a good cycle here. We need to break this cycle, end the provocative actions, and get these parties back to the table. It is not easy. It has not been easy for quite some time. We can’t want this more than the parties themselves want it. And we are going to continue to work on it and we’re going to continue to call it how we see it when either side takes provocative action.
QUESTION: Sorry just to keep beating this issue, but you are deeply disappointed. I mean, next week you can be exceedingly deeply disappointed, but the Israelis will continue to build. What leverage you can actually exercise?
QUESTION: I just asked that.
QUESTION: I want to ask this because we keep asking – we keep going around this thing. I mean, and next week we’ll have another statement. On the ground, what is going on?
MS. NULAND: Again, as long as the parties want us involved, we’re going to continue to try to get them back together. We’re going to continue to call it how we see it if we think either side has taken action that imperils the peace process. If there were a quick fix to this, it would be fixed. The only way forward is back to the table. We can talk about this for seven more hours, but it’s not going to change .
QUESTION: How has your deep disappointment been conveyed to the Israelis? I assume your statement today was not a surprise to them.
MS. NULAND: Well, we’re obviously making similar representations privately as we are making publicly.
QUESTION: Is that at the level of Ambassador Shapiro or has any – is Secretary Clinton or one of – Deputy Secretary Burns or Beth Jones called?
MS. NULAND: It’s at the level of Ambassador Shapiro and David Hale. I’ll let you know if I have anything else to share with you on that front.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Are you concerned at all that when you say you can’t want this more than the two sides, given all that’s going on by both sides, the actions, are you concerned that you’ve reached the point where you want it more than they do?
MS. NULAND: I don’t want to characterize that. You’ve seen the President say, including in the last few weeks, that he is committed to staying engaged, he is committed to continuing to try. So we’re going to do that.
QUESTION: Right. But your comments today – you’ve questioned it before – the last provocative action by the Palestinians, I think was the UN, right? There hasn’t been anything since then, right? But at that point, you questioned the Palestinians whether they were really interested in peace or not. And today, for the first time that I can remember in a very, very long time, going back probably back a decade, you’re questioning whether Israelis are really – the Israeli leadership, despite what they say, is really interested in peace. So I’m --
MS. NULAND: Matt, I was evenhanded in my comment that we can’t want this more than the parties.
QUESTION: Oh, I know. So now it is evenhanded. Now you’ve questioned both sides’ commitment to – you’re questioning both sides’ stated commitment to wanting to get a peace deal. So I’m just wondering if, given that situation, if you’re worried at all that it has gotten to the point where you want it more than they do.
MS. NULAND: I think, frankly, I’ve made that statement probably three times in the last three months that we can’t want it more than the parties.
QUESTION: I know. But have you gotten to the point where you think you do want it more than they do? And that’s – and that would be a serious situation.
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to make any grand pronouncements of that kind. I think we need to keep working, and the President is committed in his second term to continue working.
QUESTION: Okay, and then just one more. Would you be willing – would the Administration be willing to put this strong language in a Security Council resolution, even though it wouldn’t change the situation on the ground?
MS. NULAND: I don’t think we think that’s a helpful step at this point.
QUESTION: Okay. So just following with that, if the Europeans – and I know this sentence is hypothetical. But I mean, the European – this work among the four European countries is going on in New York and presumably could lead to a Security Council resolution. But you’re saying now you don’t think that it needs to go to that stage, that you don’t think a --
MS. NULAND: We don’t think that that is helpful and we’re making that clear.
QUESTION: So I mean, what could you do to be – that would be helpful in terms of getting them to – so basically, unless the Palestinians sit down with them in talks, they’re going to continue to build settlements? I mean, you make the connection between the only way to solve this is to sit down and have the talks, but that doesn’t seem to be possible, particularly while the Israelis are building settlements. So what else can the U.S. do to kind of put pressure on Israel to stop them from building settlements to create the kind of climate for talks that you’re urging?
MS. NULAND: We’re going to continue to make our case that this isn’t taking either side closer to the table, just as we made that case in the context of the UN action. We will continue our diplomacy with both sides. We will continue to try to press them.