April 16, 2014

Middle East Media Sampler for July 9, 2012


1) After all he has a PhD in denial

The Times of Israel reports Abbas accuses Rice of fabricating crucial conversation about Olmert’s peace offer (h/t Challah Hu Akbar):

In her book “No Higher Honor” published last year, Rice describes how she traveled to Ramallah in May 2008 and “sketched out the details” of Olmert’s offer, which covered West Bank territorial arrangements, security issues, the division of Jerusalem, and a proposal regarding Palestinian refugees that provided for a very limited number to enter Israel. Abbas started negotiating immediately, she wrote, and she quoted him saying: “I can’t tell four million Palestinians that only five thousand of them can go home.”

In an interview broadcast Saturday night on Israel’s Channel 2 news, however, Abbas flatly denied saying anything of the kind. Indeed, he said no such conversation took place.

Asked about the “four million” comment, he said, “I absolutely did not say that.”

Furthermore:

Similarly, in the same interview, Abbas denied making another key comment relating to the Olmert proposal, in this case to the Washington Post journalist Jackson Diehl. In a May 2009 interview with Abbas, Diehl quoted the PA leader as saying, of the Olmert offer, that “the gaps were wide.”

“I didn’t say that,” Abbas said in the Channel 2 interview.

As Jonathan Tobin points out, there's no reason to trust the word of a man with a PhD in Holocaust denial.

Of course not everyone who worked with Abbas has been silent. MEMRI translated a Saeb Erekat interview with Al Jazeera in 2009:

In November 2008… Let me finish… Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: “We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin.” Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: “I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine – the June 4, 1967 borders – without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places. This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign…

This would be consistent with what Abbas told Rice.

Let's take a look at the Diehl interview:

Yet on Wednesday afternoon, as he prepared for the White House meeting in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, Abbas insisted that his only role was to wait. He will wait for Hamas to capitulate to his demand that any Palestinian unity government recognize Israel and swear off violence. And he will wait for the Obama administration to force a recalcitrant Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction and publicly accept the two-state formula.

Until Israel meets his demands, the Palestinian president says, he will refuse to begin negotiations. He won't even agree to help Obama's envoy, George J. Mitchell, persuade Arab states to take small confidence-building measures. "We can't talk to the Arabs until Israel agrees to freeze settlements and recognize the two-state solution," he insisted in an interview. "Until then we can't talk to anyone."

In short, Abbas fully expected pressure to come from the Obama administration to bend Netanyahu to Abbas's will.

Last year in an article that was sympathetic to Abbas, Obama and Abbas: From Speed Dial to Not Talking, reporter Mark Landler wrote:

Mr. Obama named a high-profile special envoy to the region, George J. Mitchell Jr. He also spoke empathetically about the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza after an Israeli military campaign against Hamas there. And the president’s demand of Israel that it freeze settlement construction cheered the Palestinians, who believed that would remove a stubborn hurdle to a peace deal.

“We hoped a lot that in his administration, there would be real progress,” said Nabil Shaath, who leads the foreign affairs department of Fatah, the main party of the Palestinian Authority. “But later on, disappointment set in,” Mr. Shaath said in a telephone interview from Ramallah on the West Bank. “He really could not deliver what he promised in terms of a cessation of settlement activity.”

When Mr. Netanyahu refused to extend a moratorium on construction, Mr. Abbas felt let down. And he blamed Mr. Obama for leading him on. In an interview with Newsweek in April, Mr. Abbas said: “It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze. I said O.K., I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump.”

Note especially the third paragraph. It wasn't that Abbas didn't get the moratorium he demanded, it was that Netanyahu did not extend the moratorium; and for that Abbas "felt let down." This is consistent with the Diehl's portrayal of Abbas as waiting for the Obama administration to force Netanyahu to do what he wanted. Given that that aspect of Diehl's portrayal is correct, it's safe to assume the rest of it is correct too.

But why would Abbas be sounding a conciliatory note now? PJ Tatler suggests an answer: ‘Palestinians are Afraid of Mitt’ According to Prominent Israeli Journalist:

Today we had the opportunity to meet with Gil Hoffman — the Chief Political Correspondent of the Jerusalem Post. He told us that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Israel in a few days is because the “Palestinians are afraid of Mitt” and understand that he has a good chance of winning the election. The Palestinians are worried that a potential President Romney, who is scheduled to visit Israel soon, as well, will be much harder on them, and therefore believe that now is the time to draw as many concessions out of Israel as they can while the equivocating Obama is still in office. Apparently the Palestinians made a gesture to Clinton to get the ball rolling.

This suggests that President Obama's efforts to show his empathy for the Palestinians and pressure Israel, had the opposite effect of the one he assumed it would have.

2) When is a home demolition not a home demolition?

When Hamas does it.

Ma'an reports (h/t Jonathan Schanzer):

The Gaza government on Sunday began the demolition of several homes in Gaza City, saying they are built on government land.

Abu Al-Abed Abu Omra, whose house is threatened with demolition, told Ma'an that police officers arrived late Saturday night and told residents to evacuate their homes in order to facilitate the demolition.

He said that there are more than 120 families living in the 15-dunams area under threat, near Gaza's Al-Azhar University, and they have been there since 1948.

This Ongoing War adds:

The destruction of sixty-year-old residential buildings certainly required the use of bulldozers. Given the obsessive and entirely unconstructive focus by foes of Israeli policies on Caterpillar Inc., would you not think there would be an outcry against the cynical actions of the Hamas regime and their bulldozers, whoever's bulldozers they were? We see no mention on the web of such an outcry.

The demolition is said to benefit Paltel. That's an especially interesting connection. Paltel is a subsidiary of a wealthy Virgin Islands holding company called APIC in which Tareq Abbas, son of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, is one of the two senior managers (see APIC's 2010 financial report). APIC's second largest shareholder is Palestine Investment Fund, better known as PIF.

Elder of Ziyon revels in the irony:

Yes, Arabs who have lived in the same homes for at least 64 years are

being threatened with expulsion and their homes destroyed.


These aren't "refugees" – these are "pre-1948" Palestinians whose homes are being demolished by Hamas.

This is too rich.

Will they now be considered "refugees"? Will UNRWA provide aid for them? Will the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions weigh in on this horror, calling it "racist"?

Are they being demolished by Caterpillar bulldozers? If a neo-Rachel

Corrie would stand in front of a bulldozer, would it stop? Where is the

ISM, anyway? Is anyone protesting outside Hamas offices abroad? What

about the internationals in Gaza now with the latest Miles of Smiles trip? Does this mean that Hamas recognizes Ottoman and British land laws as far as private ownership goes?

About Daniel Goldstein

Daniel Goldstein is a media critic and recovering blogger. He has been critiquing media bias against Israel since his first letter to the editor in 1987.