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May 26, 2017

USA Today Omits Israeli Peace Offers While Covering ‘Peace Push’

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Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton and PLO head Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn in 1993


A May 24, 2017 USA Today article on President Trump’s visit to Israel discussed his hopes to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace (“Trump’s peace push a difficult path”). However, Today reporter Gregory Korte failed to inform readers about previous U.S. and Israeli offers that could have led to a Palestinian state.

The paper claimed that “deep divisions” existed between Israelis and Palestinians and noted “Every president since Richard Nixon has tried to bring about a permanent peace agreement…”

Yet, USA Today omitted U.S. and Israeli offers for a “two state solution” in exchange for peace with, and recognition of, the Jewish state. In recent years, such offers were extended to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis Conference. The PA rejected—without so much as a counteroffer—each of these opportunities.

The 2008 offer by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert included 93% of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and a Palestinian state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem. Additionally, as The Jerusalem Post noted:

“Olmert essentially agreed to forgo sovereignty of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest site, and proposed that in the framework of a peace agreement, the area containing the religious sites in Jerusalem would be managed by a special committee consisting of representatives from five nations: Saudia Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, the United States and Israel.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas rejected this plan “out of hand,” and literally failed to call Israeli negotiators back.

Not only did USA Today omit this relevant information, but the paper also failed to note recent U.S. and Israeli attempts to restart negotiations. As CAMERA noted in The Times of Israel, Abbas rejected a peace initiative, presented in person, by then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in March 2016. Abbas similarly refused a 2014 attempt by then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to restart negotiations.

In its report on Trump’s visit to Israel, USA Today wrote that the president “sidestepped the question of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, something that he and President Obama have both said do not help the peace process.” Although this could mislead readers to think that Jewish communities in the West Bank have been expanding externally, in fact, they have not; most of the expansion has been internal, the result of natural population growth and not from new arrivals.

Nor are settlements the obstacle to peace that USA Today implies; as a December 2016 Washington Post editorial pointed out, “80 percent of that growth has was in areas that Israel would likely annex in any future settlement.” Further, in November 2009, Israel—in an attempt to restart negotiations with the PA—declared a 10-month settlement freeze. This too was met with Palestinian rejectionism. And this too was omitted in Today’s dispatch.

To its credit, USA Today’s report did note the issue of PA-payments to terrorists, reporting on the “so-called Martyrs Fund that provides payments to families of Palestinians killed or imprisoned for attacking Israelis.” However, the omission of the numerous opportunities spurned by Palestinian leaders—in a report on why a “peace push” has a “difficult path”—is striking.

Posted by SD at May 26, 2017 02:37 PM

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