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July 19, 2005

New York Times Editorial: Sharon is Bad. Abbas is Good.

You've got to hand it to the New York Times editorial board. They are steadfast in their convictions. Regardless of what happens in the Middle East, regardless of the risks Israel takes, regardless of the Palestinian mortars and rockets that continue to kill Israelis, Times editorials continue to try to convince readers that the situation in the Middle East is simple: Israel is bad, and the Palestinians are good.

Friday's editorial reads:

Sadly, most of the blame for the current paralysis lies with Mr. Sharon, the same man who courageously pushed the Gaza withdrawal idea through a reluctant Israeli political system.

Mr. Sharon appears to have become so fixated on making the withdrawal appear palatable to the Israeli right that he has lost sight of the larger strategic calculus of building peace. He wants to advertise the pullback as a unilateral Israeli measure, undertaken for Israel's own reasons, and not as part of any larger negotiated deal with the Palestinians, or still worse, as a response to Palestinian terrorism.

He has become so determined to show that the Palestinians will not be reaping any rewards from Israel's withdrawal that he has shunned taking simple steps that could significantly improve the quality of Palestinian life in Gaza, like paying to clean up the rubble of the settler homes Israel intends to destroy, facilitating the reopening of Gaza's airport and finding ways to make border security less humiliating and time-consuming for Palestinians.

In fact, Sharon does not want "to advertise the pullback as a unilateral Israeli measure." While it was initially planned and described during Arafat's reign as a unilateral withdrawal, Israel made the decision after Arafat's death to try to coordinate the pullback with the Palestinians, and it so was decided to stop referring to it as a "unilateral" disengagement.

As reported in China's Xinhua News Service a few days before Friday's editorial:

A senior Palestinian official assured on Monday that progress has been achieved with Israel in coordination on planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip next month.

Palestinian Planning Minister Ghassan al-Khatib told reporters in Ramallah that Israel had recently started positively responding to the Palestinian demands to renew coordination on the Israeli disengagement plan.

Israel has until recently considered the plan unilateral, refusing any kind of security and political coordination with the Palestinian side, said al-Khatib.

And by the AP a few weeks earlier:

Israel originally planned its withdrawal from Gaza and part of the West Bank as a unilateral move, but in recent months changed its policy and has been seeking coordination with the Palestinian Authority to prevent a takeover of Gaza by the militant Hamas.

As far as criticizing Israel for not paying for the clean up of settler homes, why doesn't the Times consider that Israel, whose economy has been hit hard by 4 years of Palestinian violence, is already struggling to get financial aid for the withdrawal and might not be able to afford to pay for the clean-up? Why doesn't the Times, instead of criticizing Israel, suggest that Europe or the World Bank help pay for the clean-up?

Israel is also criticized for not "facilitating the reopening of Gaza's airport and finding ways to make border security less humiliating." What about Israeli minister Ehud Olmert's comments at the World Economic Forum in May that if the Palestinians would "stop terror" Israel would be amenable to reopening the Gaza airport? What about Israel's legitimate security concerns? Over 100 Palestinian rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli towns in the past week alone, with fatal consequences. Does the Times consider that an important issue to be dealt with before Israel can relax border security? Apparently not. Palestinian rockets and mortar attacks are not so much as mentioned in the editorial.

For more, see this post on the Times editorial "template" at Mediacrity, and this CAMERA article on the newspaper's "knee jerk editorial bias."

Posted by GI at July 19, 2005 04:51 PM


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