LEO RENNET WRITES TO EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
Palestinian officials increasingly threaten to abort negotiations with Israel for a two-state solution and instead are toying with the idea of seeking international endorsement of a unilateral declaration of statehood in Gaza, the West Bank and all of East Jerusalem, including the Old City with all its Jewish, Muslim and Christian shrines.
This is obviously important news and should be reported, along with whether such a Palestinian strategy shift is merely bluff, and, if not, whether it would be a quixotic venture leading nowhere. Plus of course, what this would mean for President Obama’s insistence that only direct talks can lead to a real peace and why his attempts to get the parties to resume negotiations seem to be going nowhere.
But that’s not exactly how Ethan Bronner, the Times Jerusalem bureau chief, reports this important development in a lengthy Oct. 21 article, (“Palestinians Shift Focus In Strategy For Statehood– Pursuing Recognition by Nations Is First Task”).
Starting with the lead paragraph, Bronner makes it clear that the Palestinians are blameless for the current impasse and only Israel is at fault for not extending a 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements.
There is nothing in Bronner’s article about the fact that Israel’s self-imposed freeze was a unilateral confidence-building gesture by Prime Minister Netanyahu to get the Palestinians to the table, which they resolutely refused to do for nine of the 10 months of the freeze. Nor is there any mention of repeated Palestinian assaults on the peace process in the meantime, with Palestinian leaders orchestrating anti-Israel de-legitimization campaigns across the world, glorifying suicide bombers and stoking anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian Authority media.
Instead of fair, responsible, even-handed reportage, Bronner immediately lapses into the role of pro-Palestinian cheerleader.
The Palestinian leadership, he writes at the top of his article, is “near despair about attaining a negotiated agreement.” Perhaps such despair is shared by Israel, but that doesn’t interest Bronner. Only Palestinian feelings are part of his equation.
Bronner’s agenda is to give maximum publicity to new Palestinian tactics to get the United Nations and the International Court of Justice to pave the way for a “global assertion of Palestinian statehood that will tie Israel’s hands.” So he’s heartened to report that “the Israelis are worried” and that “no government in the world supports their settlement policy.”
The other side of the coin — that international bodies are not exactly enamored of Hamas or Hezbollah terrorism either, or of threats propounded by more mainstream Palestinian officials to resume “armed resistance” — is carefully ignored in Bronner’s piece.
And where, pray, are Obama and Secretary of State Clinton as their own peace strategy seems to be going poof? “The United States,” Bronner writes, “is pleading with the Palestinians not to give up hope.” Again, only Palestinians plaints matter.
Are similar pleas not to abandon hope being extended to Israel? Bronner won’t say.
Actually, Obama and Clinton are doing far more than just pleading with the Palestinians not to give up hope. They’re passing the word to Abbas to get back on track and resume direct negotiations. Clinton has made this crystal-clear, publicly and privately. That’s why U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell is heading back to the region to reinforce the Obama-Clinton message that there is no alternative to direct negotiations.
But these things are inconsequential to Bronner. As self-appointed cheerleader for the Palestinians, his bottom-line is clear — “The Palestinians want the world to declare their state on territories that Israel conquered in the 1967 war — the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Half a million Israelis now live in those areas, and Israel could find itself, in effect, in daily violation of another member state.”
No mention that Israel did NOT conquer these areas in the 1967 war from the Palestinians. These were never Palestinian lands. In response to an imminent threat of Arab armies intent on eliminating the Jewish state, Israel — in the Six-Day War — captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and Gaza from Egypt. There were no Palestinian players in the mix at the time. Only Arabs arrayed against Israel.
No mention, either, that Israel, when it comes to settlements, dismantled all of them in Sinai when it got a peace treaty with Egypt, removed all of them from Gaza with getting only terror in return, and repeatedly offered to dismantle the vast majority of West Bank settlements in a fair, reasonable two-state peace deal with the Palestinians. Thus, settlements are not the deal-breakers Bronner pretends they are.
But with Bronner and the Times, facts and history are brushed aside. It’s only what the Palestinians say and want that counts.