THUMBS UP to the Associated Press’s Chief State Department Correspondent Barry Schweid for his consistently objective and factual reports on Israel and the Middle East. A consummate professional, Schweid is one of the few American reporters who regularly covers State Department briefings and probes the views and policies of its officials. His dispatches are consistently balanced and thoughtful.
While many reporters disregard Palestinian peace process obligations and focus solely on Israeli ones, Schweid presents the responsibilities of both parties. Importantly, his explanation of Israeli-Palestinian agreements includes primary Israeli and Palestinian commitments. For example, he summarizes the Wye River Memorandum as providing “tighter security measures by the Palestinians and a pullback on the West Bank by Israel” (February 5, 1999), and he observes that Wye “calls for Israel to pull back on the West Bank in exchange for measures by the Palestinians to curb terrorism” (February 3, 1999).
Furthermore, Schweid does not superficially hold Israel responsible for every complication in the peace process. Notably, he explains Israeli actions in the context of previously signed agreements. For example, Schweid writes that, “Israel agreed in the Wye accords to relinquish another 13 percent of the West Bank by Dec. 18. After yielding 4 percent, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a halt, insisting the Palestinians had defaulted on several pledges” (January 6, 1999).
His comprehensive treatment of Israel’s allegation of a Palestinian “revolving door” for jailed prisoners included comment by Americans, Israelis and Palestinians. He also noted upcoming Congressional hearings on whether the Palestinian Authority has released from jail the killers of several United States citizens.