Fox News correspondent Conor Powell is at it again, substituting balanced reporting and informed analysis with partisan, parroted phrases and biased, unsupported assertions. Reporting on the January 15th Mideast peace conference in Paris, Powell editorialized:
Trump is an avid supporter of Israel’s building settlements on Palestinian land, and he’s vowed to shift the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would undermine any hopes of a negotiated two-state agreement. Israeli officials are overwhelmingly excited for a Trump administration, but his policies have the potential to fracture European support for Israel, which it desperately needs. (Fox Report Weekend, Fox News, Jan. 15, 2017)
There are several problems with this reporting:
1) By declaring the land on which Israel’s settlements are built “Palestinian,” Powell abandons his role as an objective journalist to side with Palestinians who view the land as rightfully theirs.
Israelis, on the other hand, do not share that view. They support their claim to the territory in question with legal agreements drawn up in the post-World War I years between 1919 and 1923. A Mandates System established in Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, was contained in the Treaty of Versailles and other peace treaties made with the Central Powers. The Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers officially recognized Palestine as a mandated state for the Jewish people at the 1920 San Remo Conference. The resulting San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920 served as the basis for the future administration of Palestine which would henceforth be recognized as the Jewish National Home, as envisioned by the Balfour Declaration. The 1922 Palestine Mandate incorporated the resolution into its preamble, confirming Jewish historical and national rights and converting the Balfour Declaration from a statement of British foreign policy to binding international law. According to Article 6 of the Mandate, “close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands not required for public use” was to be encouraged. Article 80 of the U.N. Charter preserved this Jewish right to settlement by specifying that nothing in the U.N. Charter’s chapter on the administration of Mandate territory shall be construed ” to alter in any manner” the rights of people and the terms of “existing international instruments” (for example, the Mandate).
UN Resolution 242, upon which all peace negotiations since 1967 are based, and the subsequent Oslo Agreements signed by the Palestinians, treat the territory in question as disputed, whose final status is to be determined only in bilateral negotiations between the two sides.
An objective journalist would use impartial language to describe the land as “disputed.”
2) By asserting that moving the American embassy to Jerusalem “would undermine any hopes of a negotiated two-state agreement,” Powell presents a biased conjecture as undisputed fact. But if Palestinians are to be believed that they want to divide Jerusalem, with the capital of a future Palestinian state in the eastern part and the capital of a neighboring Israeli state in the western part, why would relocating an embassy to western Jerusalem preclude a two-state agreement?
An objective journalist would relay this Palestinian threat impartially as such.
3) Powell further opines that Israel “desperately needs” European support, which Trump might fracture, but what does this mean? Europeans have long sided with Arab nations, depriving Israel of the sort of support it has traditionally received from the U.S. and there is no indication that Israel is now suddenly “desperate” for European support, even over American support.
An objective journalist would avoid this type of unsupported hyperbole. But then Conor Powell has never been an objective journalist.
He blamed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for sparking the second Palestinian intifada by falsely declaring that the prime minister had “pushed past security and entered the Al Aqsa Mosque.”
He attempted to whitewash a Palestinian-perpetrated massacre of unarmed Jewish worshippers in a synagogue in western Jerusalem by falsely pretending that it was part of a bilateral phenomenon with “fights over religious spots” in Jerusalem and “tit-for-tat violence on both sides.”
He tried to downplay deadly Palestinian violence while relaying as fact the false Palestinian pretext that this was all about “access to the Al Aqsa mosque.”
And he presented the Palestinian justification for terrorism as fact by claiming their deadly violence was the result of “frustration” over “lack of prospects for an independent Palestinian state and the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”
Given this history, it is unsurprising that Powell’s latest partisan editorializing favors a Palestinian perspective and goes against Israel. The question is why Fox News, whose slogan is “Fair and Balanced,” continues to turn to a Middle East reporter who routinely injects his own biased opinion into news stories.