Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations: You Say Tomato, I Say IED

In a post at his home at Z Word Blog, cross posted at Huffington Post, Ben Cohen offers one of the fundamental insights into the Palestinian condition over these many decades: the Palestinians have chosen a cause over a state. In 1948, on what was just a portion of present-day Israel, and even less of  what remains for some Jews the cause or dream nation of all of Judea and Samaria – of Greater or Eretz Israel – Jews chose a state. Palestinian rejection of the UN partition, the refusal all these years to accept or propose any compromise, negotiated agreement leading to the creation of a Palestinian state, has left Palestinians, perpetually, with only the cause. For many, probably most people now, it is not easy to see that this state of being – commitment to the cause over the state – has been a Palestinian choice. Offers Cohen,

Rather than engage in negotiations which will reinforce the need for compromise, the PA has embarked on a strategy that, in the language of de Callieres, places its “passions” over its “interests.” Moreover, the PA is getting away with it, because it has become adept, in its relations with powers great and small, at trading its supposed powerlessness as a form of power.

This power includes what developed into authority over the narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an authority far beyond the Middle East. Small, daily, and insidious case in point – a widely syndicated AP story by Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh, both of whom have been noted before for their anti-Israeli bias. It is as simple and nearly invisible as this:

The outreach from Abbas comes at a time when peace efforts seem hopelessly stuck. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government refuses to freeze settlement construction, while Abbas says he can’t negotiate without such a halt.

One doesn’t need to examine the shabby reporting (like that of 60 Minutes on Sunday regarding state budget deficits) that doesn’t question the claims of its subjects, in this case the “can’t” at the end of the second sentence above. All one has to do is question why the two sentences were not written this way:

The outreach from Abbas comes at a time when peace efforts seem hopelessly stuck.  Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s government refuses to negotiate without a freeze in Israeli settlement construction, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he won’t accept any preconditions to negotiations.

Or why might one not just as reasonably print this version:

The outreach from Abbas comes at a time when peace efforts seem hopelessly stuck.  Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s  government refuses to end all anti-Semitic education and broadcasting on PA television, while  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’ssays he can’t negotiate without such a halt.

Of course, Israel is not making such a demand – but it could, just as the PA is making its demand about settlements.

The actually published version places the onus for the impasse on a refusal by Israel. But what are the default expectations of negotiations between belligerents? Often, the only one is a cessation of hostilities, but even that is not an obstacle if the parties truly wish to negotiate a peace and final settlement of a dispute. The United States and Vietnam negotiated all through the continuation of a major war.

So why did professional journalists Laub and Daraghmeh write those sentences as they did? Why did AP editors let them pass? And why did newspapers and web news sites all over the world publish them?



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