Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Direct peace talks are on. Why did the last talks fail? Reuters won't tell.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been agreed and are scheduled to begin on September 2nd.  The question of when and why they last broke off is an essential one because it speaks to the differences between the negotiating positions of the parties and the likelihood of success this time around.

Over the last 15 months, Reuters has consistently refused to report on what has become common knowledge: the Palestinians ended peace talks in November of 2008 following PA President Mahmoud Abbas' rejection of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's offer of a Palestinian state consisting of Gaza, 97-100 percent of the West Bank (with land swaps), Arab neighborhoods in the eastern part of Jerusalem, and the acceptance of thousands of Palestinians to be resettled in Israel as a nominal recognition of the "right of return".  This offer went far beyond that of any proposal previously made to the Palestinians and gave them essentially everything they had always said they wanted.

As indicated above, Reuters consistently fails to report on the Israeli offer and Abbas' rejection of it.  One can speculate as to why the agency's correspondents are derelict in this regard but hypothetically speaking, if a journalist were a partisan to a conflict and less interested in accurately reporting the facts than in image-making on behalf of the favored combatant, it's clear that any emerging news portraying that combatant in a negative light -- as intransigent, for example -- would be systematically suppressed.  Hypothetically speaking, that is.

Which leaves Reuters correspondents with a dilemma: how to explain the failure of the last round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians (as a result of Abbas' intransigence) while protecting their client's public image.

For many months, Reuters had been attempting to suggest that negotiations broke down as a result of the Gaza war in December of 2008 to January 2009.  But as we pointed out, that notion reflected an anachronism as Palestinian negotiators stopped meeting with their Israeli counterparts well before the outbreak of war when the Quartet refused the Palestinian request to coerce Israel into further concessions following Olmert's settlement offer.

Well, Reuters has now abandoned that alibi on behalf of the Palestinians with an admission that:
... negotiations were suspended before a Gaza war in 2008.
Yet, the agency provides no alternative explanation for the suspension leaving a gaping hole where there should be a cogent account of events leading to the failure of negotiations in 2008. 

This is by design, of course, as any reference to Abbas' rejection of a peace offer so compliant with Palestinian demands would reveal Abbas' intransigence and cost Reuters their significant investment in Palestinian image-making.

Reuters does however, want us to know that the current Israeli Prime Minister is likely to be considerably less compromising than the one prior:
Netanyahu, who had pushed for a move from U.S.-mediated "proximity talks" that began in May to face-to-face negotiations without preconditions, said reaching a peace deal would require both sides to take the "necessary steps."
He did not define them, and the term fell short of the pledge of "painful compromises" his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, voiced at the 2007 Annapolis Conference that launched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which yielded no deal.
so we know who to blame if and when the new round of talks fail as did the last.  Thanks Reuters!

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