Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lost in translation

Reuters correspondent Tom Perry has in recent days, written a number of stories apologizing for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the latter continues to reject direct peace talks with Israel.  While Perry has divined for us what Abbas fears and believes ("Abbas is wary of negotiating directly with an Israeli leader [Netanyahu] he believes unwilling to settle the Middle East conflict on terms acceptable to the Palestinians"), Perry has consistently failed to inform readers that Abbas summarily rejected former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's capitulatory settlement offer in 2008.

Today, Perry "clarifies" Abbas' terms for entering into direct talks with Israel.  Translating from an interview in Arabic Abbas provided al-Ghad newspaper, Perry writes:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel must agree to the idea of a third party guarding the borders of a future Palestinian state before direct peace talks can begin.
... Abbas said Israel must also agree in principle to an equitable land swap that would compensate the Palestinians for West Bank land absorbed by Jewish settlements in any peace deal.
Going beyond the question of direct talks with Israel, here are a few other things Abbas stated in the interview which Perry fails to disclose:

On the previous settlement offer from Olmert, Abbas admits rejecting the offer and then blames Netanyahu for not agreeing to begin negotiations where they ended, i.e., acceding to all of Olmert's concessions and "bridging the gap" from there.

In their reconciliation talks, the Palestinian Authority is not asking Hamas to accept a two-state solution, i.e., "it is not required of Hamas to agree to any political view different from the vision".  The vision, indeed.
We do not link between reconciliation and negotiations, despite the importance of issues, but we believe that reconciliation is essential for the establishment of a Palestinian state on all Palestinian occupied territories.
Note that for Abbas, reconciliation with Hamas is essential for a Palestinian state to include Gaza but Hamas' acceptance of two states -- one Palestinian, one Israeli (Jewish) -- is not a condition for reconciliation.  We wonder how Abbas expects Israel to agree to a two-state solution when he holds no similar expectation for his own reconstituted government.

And by the way, with respect to assistance for the Palestinians from their Arab brethren:
Arab countries have not paid a penny of financial support allocations decided at the Sirte summit of 500 million dollars.
We're glad Abbas has now clarified his demands for direct talks with Israel and that Reuters' Tom Perry can actually report on what Abbas says rather than what Perry believes Abbas believes.  But to understand the full implication of Abbas' words, the full story should be reported -- not just what Perry wants us to know.

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