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Media Analyses





New York Times News Pages Again Editorialize On Netanyahu


The New York Times seems keen reminding readers of "Benjamin Netanyahu's apparent disavowal of a two-state solution," as the newspaper's Diaa Hadid phrased it today.

The problem is, Netanyahu insists he has not, in fact, disavowed the two-state solution. It has been ten days since the Israeli prime minister clarified his controversial election-day remarks critical of the two-state solution, something The New York Times itself acknowledged on March 20:

Mr. Netanyahu said he had not intended to reverse his endorsement in a 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but only to say that it was impossible right now.

He cited the Palestinian leadership's refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and its pact with the militant Islamist Hamas movement, as well as the rise of Islamic terrorism across the region.

''I haven't changed my policy,'' Mr. Netanyahu said in an interview with MSNBC, his first since his resounding victory on Tuesday, which handed him a fourth term. ''What has changed is the reality.''

''I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that, circumstances have to change,'' he said. ''I was talking about what is achievable and what is not achievable. To make it achievable, then you have to have real negotiations with people who are committed to peace.''

The New York Times is entitled to mention that some critics believe Netanyahu's election day statement amounted to a real reversal or evidence that, deep down inside, he never really supported a Palestinian state. But it is dishonest of the newspaper to refer to a "disavowal" without reminding readers that Netanyahu disavowed that disavowal. And it is unprofessional to pretend to know what the prime minister secretly thinks about two states, as Hadid appears to do in this piece — and as she has done in another recent piece.
 
Allegations that Netanyahu does not want two-states are acceptable in opinion pieces. In news stories, they amount to the journalistic sin of sneaking editorial opinions where they don't belong.

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