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Media Analyses





AFP Corrects On 'Two States For Two Peoples'


With reports that President Donald Trump apparently will not insist on a two-state solution as he meets today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Agence France Presse set out to explain "What is the two-state solution"? Unfortunately, the influential wire service confounded the core issue of this very question – do these two states include a specifically Jewish state or not? – but commendably corrected following correspondence from CAMERA's Israel office.
 
The agency's story originally erred (12:59 PM GMT):
In 1988, then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat unveiled a declaration of independence which, for the first time, referred to "two states for two peoples."
This recognition is endorsed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which includes most Palestinian movements.
First, nowhere in the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence does the phrase "two states for two peoples" appear. Instead, the declaration states:
Despite the historical injustice done to the Palestinian Arab people by their dispersion and deprivation of the right of self-determination after the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947, which partitioned Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish, that resolution still provides the legal basis for the right of the Palestinian Arab people to national sovereignty and independence.
Thus, the declaration refers to UN Resolution 181, concerning the partition of the Palestine Mandate into a Jewish and Arab state, in order to establish the "legal basis for the right of the Palestinian Arab people to national sovereignty and independence." The declaration does not similarly affirm the right of a Jewish state to sovereignty.
 
Second, AFP's claim that the Palestine Liberation Organization, which includes most Palestinian movements, endorses "two states for two people" is false. Palestinian leaders have been explicit and consistent in their rejection of two states for two peoples.
 
Senior Palestinian official and negotiator Nabil Shaath, for example, told ANB TV in July 2011 that a French initiative at the time
reshaped the issue of the "Jewish state" into a formula that is also unacceptable to us -- two states for two peoples. They can describe Israel itself as a state for two peoples, but we will be a state for one people. The story of "two states for two peoples" means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this -- not as part of the French initiative and not as part of the American initiative. (Emphases added.)
As Shaath said, "two states for two people" means a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, something that the Palestinian leadership has never accepted. (And the AFP article does acknowledge that the Palestinians reject recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.) (President Barak Obama said in 2011, "The ultimate goal is two states for two people:  Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people." (Emphasis added.)
 
The Palestinian rejection of Israel as a Jewish state means the Palestinian rejection of "two states for two peoples." While the Palestinian Authority claims to recognize Israel and thus support two states, it clearly rejects the idea of two states for two peoples.
 
In response to communication from CAMERA, AFP updated and expanded the story. Editors removed the false claim that the 1988 Declaration of Independence mentioned "two states for two peoples" along with the incorrect claim that the PLO has endorsed this formula. The amended text (4:35 PM GMT) now accurately states:
In 1988, then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat unveiled a declaration of independence which for the first time talked of two states.
This recognition is endorsed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which includes most Palestinian movements.

In addition, editors added the important point that Palestinian Arabs rejected the 1947 partition plan while Zionists accepted it. Both versions note: "The UN partition plan from 1947 also proposed two states, one Arab and one Jewish, with Jerusalem placed under separate international control." But the later article adds: "The Jewish leaders accepted it but Arab leaders did not."
 
Additional history about the failed efforts towards at two-state solution ignored in the earlier article which appears in the later version includes:
The 1993 Oslo Accords between the two sides agreed on the creation of the Palestinian Authority for a transitional five-year period ahead of full independence.
 
The process, however, broke down amid mutual accusations of blame.
 
In 2003 another roadmap envisaged a final agreement on borders for 2005 but also failed.
CAMERA's timely action and AFP's quick correction underscores the value of CAMERA's work monitoring and responding to wire stories in the same news cycle as they appear. With this timely, preemptive work, CAMERA's Israel office helps prevent misinformation from appearing in media outlets around the world.
 
For additional AFP corrections prompted by CAMERA, please see here.


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