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March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
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Blaming Israel to Preserve a Theory

Israel has built almost no new “settlements,” i.e. brand new towns, villages or cities in the West Bank since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 and claiming anything different isn’t just wrong, it’s a deliberate attempt to poison the atmosphere against the Jewish state.
Jonathan S. Tobin is Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine.

Jonathan S. Tobin is Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine.
Photo Credit: Commentarymagazine.com

Secretary of State John Kerry was in London last week, trying to sweet talk Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas into talking peace again with Israel. But the main front in the peace process appears to be in Washington where the State Department is still spinning the collapse of Kerry’s initiative and placing the primary fault for the failure of his fool’s errand on Israel.

While Kerry fired the initial shots of this campaign himself when he had his “poof” moment at a Senate hearing at which he claimed Israel housing construction announcements had ended the negotiations, it was then continued by an in-depth interview given by American officials (widely and credibly attributed to Kerry’s envoy Martin Indyk) to Yediot Aharonoth in which the Netanyahu government was thoroughly trashed and Abbas’s intransigence rationalized. But not satisfied with that, Kerry’s aides are back reinforcing their attacks on Israel this week helping to generate stories in both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The point of the press barrage appears not, as with previous assaults on the Israelis, to pressure them to make more concessions to the Palestinians in future talks since, as the Times noted, the president seems to have no interest in sticking his neck out further on behalf of an effort that has no chance to succeed. Rather, the continued talk about settlements being the obstacle to peace seems to have two purposes. One is to defend Kerry’s reputation against accurate criticisms of his decision to waste so much time and effort on a negotiation that was always doomed to fail. The other is that the administration peace processors who largely repeated the same mistakes made by the Clinton administration during the Oslo period with regard to the Palestinians feel compelled to justify their behavior by blaming Israel. The problem with the focus on settlements is not just that it is both inaccurate and out of context but that railing at Israeli building is the only way to preserve belief in a theory about attaining Middle East peace that has failed again.

It cannot be emphasized enough that most of the discussion about the settlements from administration sources and their cheerleaders in the press is not only wrongheaded but also deliberately misleading. A perfect example of that came Thurdsay in David Ignatius’ column in the Post in which he writes:

The issue of Israeli settlements humiliated the Palestinian negotiators and poisoned the talks, according to statements by U.S. negotiators. When Israel announced 700 new settlements in early April, before the April 29 deadline for the talks, “Poof, that was sort of the moment,” Kerry told a Senate panel.

Phrased that way, it certainly sounds egregious. But Israel didn’t announce the start up 700 new settlements. It authorized 700 new apartments in Gilo, a 40-year-old Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem that no one, not even the Palestinians, expects would be given to them in even a prospective peace treaty more to their liking than the Israelis.

Israel has built almost no new “settlements,” i.e. brand new towns, villages or cities in the West Bank since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 and claiming anything different isn’t just wrong, it’s a deliberate attempt to poison the atmosphere against the Jewish state. Later in the day, the Post corrected that line to read “settlement apartments,” but the intent to deceive on the part of Ignatius was clear.

More to the point, both Ignatius and the latest op-ed mislabeled as a news story by Times White House correspondent Mark Landler, note their narratives of Israeli perfidy but fail to highlight that it was Netanyahu who agreed to Kerry’s framework for further peace talks and Abbas who turned the U.S. down. It was Abbas who refused to budge an inch during the talks even though Israel’s offers of territorial withdrawal constitute a fourth peace offer including independence that the Palestinians have turned down in the last 15 years. His decision to embrace Hamas in a unity pact rather than make peace with Israel sealed the end of Kerry’s effort, not announcements of new apartments in Jerusalem.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


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9 Responses to “Blaming Israel to Preserve a Theory”

  1. OBSAMA AND ALL HES TEAM WILL BE CURSE FOR MURDERING THIS WORLD! IN GOD NAME AMEN

  2. if you kknow what is good for you you will leave israel alone fool

  3. in time a war-lord will find his chance – he will do the best he can to archieve his aim:= war – so he will run best way of his business – no matter of the result

    quidquid agis …. ?!?!?
    these old ROMANS to trash !?!?
    Gefällt mir · · Teilen
    Middle East Monitor
    1 Std ·

    Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has criticised Palestinian President Mahmoud #Abbas, saying that he is no longer a partner for peace and that #Israel will not reach any agreement with him.

    Speaking to Channel 2, the right-wing minister also hinted that Israel maintains a secret channel of communication in order to bypass Abbas.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11551-lieberman-says-israel-runs-secret-communications-to-bypass-abbas

  4. i agree with you Mr.Tobin 100%

  5. Tony Mark says:

    At Present the Palestinians are even “Whiter” than “SNOW”,,,, But I’m equally sorry to disappoint the Obama Admin,,,, I’m Daltonian. ;) ;) evrytime I see White its BLACK to ME.

  6. Tony Mark says:

    At Present the Palestinians are even “Whiter” than “SNOW”,,,, But I’m equally sorry to disappoint the Obama Admin,,,, I’m Daltonian. ;) ;) evrytime I see White its BLACK to ME.

  7. The biggest problem the Jews have is that there is the left wing extremist Jews in Israel and the US provide cover for racist anti-Jewish discussions and comments about Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. This is a legacy of the disdain for the Jewish religion that the very secular Israeli pols have shown for the past 60 years or more. Using the terms “settlement” and “west bank” are in themselves clear examples of anti-Jewish bigotry and these terms are used by Israeli and US media on a regular basis. And even pols like Netanyahu come out with idiotic statements like supporting the creation of another islamist terrorist state in middle of Israel… Israel needs someone like Moshe Feiglin and Israeli pols need to stop trying to accommodate racist anti-Jewish policies in an effort to show openness.

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