Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Reuters: Bush gave unconditional love to Israel; Obama loves ya' almost as much

In a previous post, we noted Reuters United Nations correspondent, Louis Charbonneau's tendency to obfuscate and omit essential details associated with the Israel-Lebanon/Hezbollah war in 2006 and UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which effectively ended it.

In a story today, Charbonneau suggests that the Obama White House "no longer provides automatic support for Israel at the UN" -- unlike the Bush presidency:
Under Obama, the United States seeks to reclaim its role as an impartial Middle East peace broker which critics say it lost during the previous administration of George W. Bush.
Charbonneau quotes Marina Ottaway, director of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to make his point:
"Israel became used to unconditional support of the United States during eight years of the Bush administration."
Reuters, other anti-Israel press, and left-wing commentators frequently issue this charge but is it accurate?

In fact, although the Bush administration largely supported Israel in its war against Palestinian terrorism, this wasn't always the case.  For example, as Robert O. Freedman notes:
External events also had a significant influence on U.S. policy-making, primarily in the area of pressuring Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians. Thus, after 9/11, when the U.S. was trying to forge a worldwide coalition, including Muslims, to confront al-Qaeda, Israel was pressured into resuming negotiations with the Palestinians even though Palestinian attacks on Israelis had not ceased. Thus, following a string of Palestinian suicide attacks in March-April 2002, when Israel reoccupied the major cities of the West Bank, Bush, fearing an Arab backlash that would hinder his efforts to confront Iraq, urged Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian cities "without delay." A similar U.S. motive appeared to underlie the U.S. decision to abstain on, rather than veto, a September 2002 UN Security Council resolution calling on Israel to lift the siege of Arafat's compound following another series of Palestinian suicide bombings.
So, political and diplomatic support for Israel during the Bush presidency were very much conditional, with the US willing to abstain on anti-Israel UN resolutions (which, absent a US veto, it knew would pass) and willing to pressure Israel for concessions when Bush felt he needed to appease Arab powers.

Moreover, Reuters and its "go-to" analysts frequently fail to mention that Bush was the first US President to formally call for a Palestinian state and subsequently submit the Road Map peace plan to the UN Security Council excluding 14 key reservations advanced by Israel.  Although the Bush administration promised to "fully and seriously address" these reservations, most were ultimately ignored, including Israel's insistence that full performance be required as a condition for progress between phases and the request that the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

As putative evidence of the Obama administration's support for Israel at the UN, Charbonneau suggests that Obama has "pushed hard" to win Security Council agreement on a new round of sanctions against Iran, but the Reuters correspondent is silent on Obama's efforts to water down those sanctions with exemptions for China and Russia.

Charbonneau also cites as evidence of Obama's ostensible good will, the White House's criticism of the UN NPT declaration calling for Israel -- not Iran, North Korea, Pakistan or India -- to submit to inspections of its nuclear activities -- after Obama had hypocritically supported and endorsed the very same declaration.

Finally, Charbonneau suggests:
Outside the United Nations, analysts say Obama tried to ease strains with Netanyahu after tensions spiked earlier this year over Jewish settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land.
No evidence is offered for this assertion but the line immediately following provides an amusing non sequitur:
He coaxed Israel into indirect talks with the Palestinians, his biggest tangible achievement in Middle East diplomacy.
Yes, we're certain Netanyahu found that coaxing to "ease strains" with Obama.

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