On its front page Sunday, The New York Times carried a box headlined, “Some Expect Hamas To Resume Talking,” with the following text:
The Palestinian Authority said it believed that negotiations on a cease-fire could resume shortly with the militant Islamic group Hamas, even though Hamas declared it was breaking off the talks and would continue to make Israel a target.
The Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, [Mazen] is required to rein in militants as part of the new Middle East peace plan, and at a summit meeting on Wednesday in Jordan, he called for an end to the armed uprising.
The reader is then directed to page 8 for the full article.
On page 8, an article begins with a repetition of the above two paragraphs and goes on to quote Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantissi as saying, “We reject any meeting with Abu Mazen,” until he retracts what he said at Aqaba.
Nabil Amr, the Palestinian information minister is then quoted: “Having Hamas in the dialogue is a vital issue that we cannot ignore, and we hope that our brothers in Hamas will change their mind.” [Our italics.]
Palestinian minister of culture, Abu Amr is quoted: “We hope in the coming days to resume the talks.” [Our italics.]
And that’s it. So when The Times trumpeted the expectation of Hamas going back to the negotiating table, it was relying on statements expressing “hope” that they would do so.
The next day, in another article on the weekend attack on an Israeli army post at Erez, beginning on the front page, The Times carried an analysis of how Abu Mazen is facing all sorts of problems on the Palestinian street over what he supposedly promised at Aqaba and
why he faces great difficulties in meeting his commitments. There is similar, but far less extensive treatment of the internal opposition Prime Minister Sharon is facing as well over his Aqaba statements.
Significantly, however, the article simply reports, without relating to difficulties for Israel’s carrying out its commitment to ease restrictions on Palestinian workers, that “the three attackers apparently concealed themselves among the 6,800 Palestinians who crossed over this morning to work in Israel.”
As we noted elsewhere on this page, Abu Mazen’s credibility is in free fall and he has friends trying to hold back the dawn of recognition that nothing has really changed in the Palestinian firmament.
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