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March 21, 2013

PBS Report Starts Off Well, Gets Caught in the Weeds


The March 19th broadcast of PBS News Hour included a segment by Margaret Warner about the Fatah-Hamas split. It started off pretty well with a look at how Hamas has worked to put Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip on a perpetual war-footing with Israel. The segment showed a fair amount of footage of Palestinian teenagers going through paramilitary training and provided some context for the imagery with Warner reporting that the training “is now offered in all of Gaza's high schools. It's further evidence of Hamas' entrenched grip on power here.”

The report stumbles when Warner addresses the difference between Hamas and Fatah. Warner relies on analyst Mark Perry who states:

Abu Mazen has gambled very explicitly and he has said very explicitly that there will be no violence against Israel and he will negotiate in good faith with Israel. The problem is that hasn't gotten him anywhere. Hamas has a totally different approach, and their approach is resistance. They believe that Israel will only come to the table when they feel pain. (Emphasis added.)

What the report failed to do at this point was to assess whether or not Mahmoud Abbas (whose nom de guerre is Abu Mazen) has actually negotiated in good faith with Israel.

It’s one thing to say you’re going to negotiate in good faith, it’s another thing to actually do it. And there’s ample evidence indicating Abbas has not negotiated in good faith. For example, when Israel agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze in 2009 an effort to set the stage for negotiations, Abbas waited until the settlement freeze was almost over before coming to the table. Abbas has also imposed pre-conditions on talks with Israel. For a well-documented summary of Abbas’ refusal to negotiate compiled by CAMERA analyst Gilead Ini, go here.

After Perry’s testimony, Warner furthers the narrative by stating that “a growing number of Palestinians see justification for” the belief that Israel will not come to the negotiating table unless it feels pain. She adds: “Last November, a week of Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes led to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.”

It was a lot more than a week’s worth of rocket fire that preceded the ceasefire. Israel had been subjected to increased rocket fire for months, not weeks prior to the ceasefire. In the 10 months prior to Israel’s attack on Hamas in November, several hundred rockets were launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Posted by dvz at March 21, 2013 04:16 PM


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