Former Israeli President Shimon Peres’s death on Wednesday caused some predictably bad press coverage. At the Wall Street Journal, in an article separate from its obituary, reporter Rory Jones chose to use the occasion for a gratuitous attack on Israel’s current government (“Decades After Oslo Accords, Peace Remains Elusive”). Jones’s reporting recycles old, debunked tropes about Palestinian frustration leading to violence, and omits important historical context.
He writes, for example,
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014 and today, the two sides remain at odds over the construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the release of Palestinians held in Israeli jails and the schism between Fatah and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
Of course, this is hardly the full list of issues over which the two sides are at odds. Jones fails to include in this list the incitement to violence that is rife within Palestinian society, a causal factor in the now year-long spate of stabbings, shootings and car rammings. As Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out only last week, speaking in front of the UN General Assembly, Palestinian schools, television and radio incite Palestinian youth daily.
It is this incitement that, as we also saw just last week, leads to violence, and not, as Jones would have us believe, “frustration” over a failed peace process, or “dismal economic conditions [that] have eroded [the Palestinians’] confidence in their leaders….” The wave of terror began around the time that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the Palestinian people that “every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God.”
Jones is also incorrect when he says that “the international community considers Jewish settlements in the territory illegal.” As CAMERA has pointed out before, the US government — a fairly major player in the international community — has not characterized the settlements as “illegal,” instead using the non-legal designation of “illegitimate.” Numerous legal scholars would take issue with Jones’s “illegal” characterization, and the Israeli government has put forth a detailed analysis showing what it claims is the legality of the settlements.
The most egregious problem with the article, however, is that while it purports to be about the “unraveling” of the Oslo process, it fails to mention the most direct cause of any such unraveling – the continued refusal by Palestinian leaders to accept Israel in any borders. Palestinian leaders rejected not one but two offers of statehood. In 2000, at Camp David, Israel accepted, but the Palestinians rejected, parameters proposed by President Bill Clinton to end the conflict and grant Palestinian statehood in 97% of the West Bank, counting a land swap, and all of Gaza. In 2008, then Prime Minister Olmert proposed an even more generous offer, but Abbas turned it down. Even when President Obama offered Mahmoud Abbas his parameters, they were refused. There is no mention, either, of the Second Intifada that Arafat started intentionally after turning down the Camp David offer.
In fact, Jones skips the entire two decades following the signing of the Oslo accords on the White House lawn. After describing the “sun-splashed morning in Washington [that] came to represent in many ways the high point of efforts to reach a peaceful resolution of the conflict” Jones skips straight ahead to 2014.
This sloppy journalism is not worthy of the Wall Street Journal.