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Peace Talks

Error (Associated Press, Jason Keyser, 9/8/03): He [Ahmed Qureia] was the head of the Palestinian team in talks that led to the breakthrough 1993 Oslo peace accords, which gave birth to the concept of  “land for peace”–Israel would return occupied lands in the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinian control in exchange for peace and security.

Fact: The Oslo accords did not “give birth” to the idea of “land-for-peace.” U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, passed shortly after the end of the 1967 war, stipulated Israeli withdrawal from some, but not all, of the territory gained in this war, in return for “secure and recognized boundaries.” This, and not Oslo, was the first expression of a joint Israeli-Arab policy of territorial compromise in the context of the Mideast conflict.

Error (Associated Press, Ravi Nessman, 5/25/03): The road map incorporates a previous proposal by Saudi Arabia that envisions Israeli withdrawal from territory it captured in the 1967 Mideast war–the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and east Jerusalem–and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, all anathema to the Israeli right.

Fact: The Saudi plan is only one of many diplomatic initiatives which the “road map” mentions. The plan does not prioritize the Saudi plan over other diplomatic initiatives. In the road map’s introduction, the Saudi initiative is cited after UNSCR 242, for example, which does not stipulate that Israel must withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and east Jerusalem. In Phase III, the “road map” again calls for a settlement based on U.N. Resolution 242, but does not again refer to the Saudi plan.

Error (New York Times, James Bennet, 9/25/01): Mr. Sharon imposed a new condition: 48 hours of “absolute quiet” before any talks.

Fact: In fact, 48 hours of absolute quiet is not a “new condition.” Since the Mitchell Agreement, Sharon has demanded (and the U.S. agreed) that any talks must be preceded by one week of “absolute quiet.” Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, Sharon has actually reduced this condition -- requiring 48 hours of quiet instead of one week.

Error (Los Angeles Times, Daoud Kuttab, 5/17/01): Israel suspended peace talks when Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister of Israel.

Fact: As the LA Times itself reported on Jan. 29, 2001, it was former Prime Minister Ehud Barak who suspended peace talks a week before Sharon was elected. Tracy Wilkinson’s January story, entitled "Barak Suspends Peace Talks Until After the Election," reports: "The once-promising era of Middle East peacemaking under the auspices of Ehud Barak’s current government came to a formal end Sunday night when Israel’s caretaker prime minister suspended diplomatic contacts with the Palestinians."

Error (Washington Post, Howard Schneider, 1/12/01): The fate of an estimated 8.6 million displaced Palestinians and their descendants, including more than 3 million registered for humanitarian aid in Gaza, the West Bank and nearby Arab countries, is among the central issues to be resolved in any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Fact: The highest number heard from advocates of the Palestinian "right of return" in the context of Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements is 5 million. (Even this number, though, is highly exaggerated when compared to U.N. data on the numbers of Palestinian refugees.)