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August 02, 2013

BBC: We’ve Never Heard Netanyahu Say What We’ve Reported He Said

The BBC's Lyse Doucet

On BBC World Service’s Newshour today, correspondent Lyse Doucet interviewed Israeli President Shimon Peres.

During the interview, a soft-spoken Doucet peppered Peres with questions clearly meant to cast Israel as uninterested in peace. In the process, the interviewer also misled readers with an erroneous claim about the Israeli Prime Minister.

After asking Peres whether he believes Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is a partner for peace and listening to Peres reply in the affirmative, Doucet asserted: “And yet we’ve never heard Mr. Netanyahu describe him as a partner for peace.�?

Except the BBC, along with anyone else who pays attention, has indeed heard such a statement from Netanyahu.

As the BBC reported on Sept. 2, 2010, “Mr Netanyahu described Mr Abbas as his ‘partner in peace,’ and said he would not allow the latest attacks to ‘block our path to peace.’�?

The full quote from Netanyahu’s Sept. 1 speech:

President Abbas, you are my partner in peace. And it is up to us, with the help of our friends, to conclude the agonizing conflict between our peoples and to afford them a new beginning.

It may be true that the Israeli prime minister hasn't used such language too many times since then. In the years that followed, the Palestinians embarked on provocative unilateral moves at the United Nations meant to isolate Israel. Abbas has given inflammatory speeches at the UN rife with hostility toward Israel. And for years, Palestinian leaders refused to heed Netanyahu’s calls for an unconditional renewal of negotiations.

Still, Netanyahu continued to urge Abbas to talk peace.

In September 2011, for example, Netanyahu said before the United Nations, “Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace.�?

And just last month, Lyse Doucet pointed out on Twitter that the Israeli leader told his Palestinian counter part that he hopes they will soon speak to each other and restart peace talks.

Good interview questions should come from careful research and deep knowledge about the topic. Easy interview questions, it seems, come from the certainty that everything is Israel’s fault.

Posted by at August 2, 2013 03:39 PM


It is because Netanyahu kept insisting that Abbas is a "peace partner" and frequently stated his belief in the "two-state solution" and his contention that a Palestinian state is "inevitable" on top of the horrible mistake of the Oslo Accords (which the Palestinians still haven't ratified or followed through on!), that Israel is in the terrible political situation today that it is in.

Posted by: Dafna Yee at August 2, 2013 05:36 PM

Mahmoud Abbas' term in office ended years ago. Negotiating with him is like the Arabs negotiating with Ehud Olmert.

The best route towards a lasting peace is for the Palestinian Arabs to hold elections. If they elect someone who is a partner for peace, Israel will have a partner for peace. But Abbas no longer has a mandate, and neither does the legislature, dominated by Hamas, since their terms have also expired.

The fact that PM Netanyahu was willing to release murderers to have talks with Abbas raises questions about whether there was a secret American carrot or stick that provides a rational explanation for his actions.

Posted by: Michael Segal at August 5, 2013 08:37 PM

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