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Media Analyses

AP's Twisted Coverage of Direct Talks

With the acceptance of the non-existent state of "Palestine" into UNESCO, a couple of Associated Press journalists rewrote a little recent history on the failure of direct talks. The Oct. 31 article, by Bradley Klapper and Matthew Lee, entitled "US cuts UNESCO funding over Palestinian vote," falsely states:

But Washington has been unable to present a viable alternative, after a year, when Israelis and Palestinians have refused to hold any direct talks on the parameters of peace agreement with one another. (Emphasis added.)

As has been correctly reported by the AP numerous times over the last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly called for immediate, direct talks with Palestinians. It is the Palestinian side which has consistently refused to sit down for face-to-face talks. A quick search of AP stories in 2011 reflects that reality. The following is a partial list of AP's coverage of Israeli calls for direct talks, and Palestinian rejection of direct talks.

The Jan. 2, 2011 article by Josef Federman ("Israeli PM wants nonstop talks with Palestinians") begins:

Israel's prime minister on Sunday proposed nonstop, face-to-face talks with the Palestinians president until a peace agreement is reached offering a possible way to advance talks that have stalled over the construction of Jewish settlements.

Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal offers the appeal of leaders working together to make history, and it comes in response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' latest claim made over the weekend in South America that genuine talks could yield a deal within months. But the Palestinians showed little enthusiasm for Netanyahu's offer. . . .

Similarly, Matti Friedman reported Jan. 24:

The outspoken Lieberman often acts independently of Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been trying to draw the Palestinians back to direct talks on a final status deal.

Likewise, Edith Lederer reported Sept. 17:

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is flying to New York to reiterate his commitment to peace and a resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians. He accused Abbas of dodging direct talks.

Karen Laub wrote Sept. 22:
This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won strong backing from Obama for his position that a Palestinian state can only be created through negotiations. . . .
Netanyahu, a longtime hard-liner who reluctantly accepted the idea of a Palestinian state is 2009 called again this week for direct talks.
Ben Feller and Tarek El-Tablawy noted the same day:
The United States is Israel's staunchest defender in demanding that direct talks are the only means to Palestinian statehood. . .
Mohammed Daraghmeh reported the following week, Sept. 29:
The Palestinians can't resume negotiations with Israel under current conditions and will pursue their bid to win U.N. recognition, a top Palestinian official said Thursday, after President Mahmoud Abbas and senior officials reviewed the latest appeal from Mideast mediators to restart talks and reach a deal within a year. . . .
In a turning point for Palestinian diplomacy, Abbas overrode strong objection by the U.S., which, like Israel, argues that a state must arise from negotiation.
Last year, the Baltimore Sun corrected this very same error. The error and correction follow:
Error: (Baltimore Sun Editorial 9/1/10) The administration had been working quietly for months to move Israel and the Palestinians from so-called proximity talks, in which each side talked separately to the Americans while refusing to deal face-to-face with the other.
Correction: (9/3/10) Also, an editorial in Wednesday's print edition should have stated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly offered to hold direct talks with the Palestinians.
CAMERA calls on the AP to likewise set the record straight, making clear that, as its own coverage has repeatedly demonstrated, Israel has repeatedly called for direct talks.

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