Saturday, January 04, 2014

The New York Times has an editorial about the current negotiations, and as usual it places the blame for poisoning the atmosphere primarily on Israel.

Signs of failure are everywhere. On Thursday, standing beside Mr. Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a harsh assessment of his Palestinian counterpart, President Mahmoud Abbas, and, implicitly, the prospect of a Middle East peace agreement. Days earlier, Israel let it be known that it would build more settlements in the West Bank, further poisoning the political atmosphere while shrinking the territorial space for a deal. Hard-liners in Mr. Netanyahu’s government are pushing a bill that would annex settlements in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank, where about 6,000 Israeli settlers and 10 times as many Palestinians live.

There are questions about the Palestinian commitment as well. Palestinian leaders have said that any new settlement activity could lead them to seek membership in the International Criminal Court and sue Israel there, a move they had promised not to take when peace talks started in the summer. An official close to Mr. Abbas has dismissed Mr. Kerry’s push for a "framework agreement" as biased toward Israel.

In his remarks on Thursday Mr. Netanyahu claimed that members of the Palestinian security force were involved in a recent attack against Israelis. Mr. Abbas should investigate the claim and, if it is true, bring those responsible to justice. He also needs to crack down on the incitement of hatred against Israel in Palestinian schools, textbooks and government-controlled media.
To its credit, the NYT at least mentions incitement, an issue that it has been all but silent on in its news pages. Even so, the bulk of the complaints are against Israel.

It is silent about the daily insistence by the PLO leadership of their "red lines." As I wrote yesterday, here is one recent list given by Saeb Erekat:

First we can not accept Israel as a Jewish state. Secondly we can not accept any Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, without Jerusalem. Thirdly we can not accept any Israeli on Palestinian territory, sea or air, after the completion of the gradual withdrawal. Fourth we can not accept any solution without the exercise of the refugees' right of return according to Resolution 194, the right of return and compensation, and (fifth) the release of all prisoners at the signing of the agreement. This is the Palestinian position.

It doesn't exactly sound like the PA is preparing its people for any compromises whatsoever. The hawkish, absolutist position of the PLO has not changed in over 25 years. Yet the NYT doesn't bother to mention that, as it never does.

Here, though, is where the NYT again shows that it is willing to give Abbas the benefit of the doubt, no matter what he does:

As part of the negotiating process, Mr. Netanyahu agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails over nine months rather than halt settlement construction. But when Mr. Abbas welcomed the latest group to the West Bank this week, Mr. Netanyahu accused him of embracing terrorists, even though Mr. Abbas never condoned the prisoners’ crimes.

He never condoned their crimes? He called them heroes, multiple times! It's not like he was hiding it - Abbas was there, in the middle of the night, to greet them and embrace them personally, one by one, to kiss them and then to speak out about how they were heroic!

It takes a special kind of wishful thinking to look at that scene and then try to minimize it by saying that Abbas didn't condone their murders. The PA is offering these murderers free jobs for life, paid for by Western funding.

 But the NYT, like other mainstream media, has its narrative of a "hawkish" Israeli leadership and a "moderate" Palestinian Arab leadership and it will do everything it can to protect that narrative. Thsi op-ed is a prime example.

(h/t Herb)



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