CAMERA Op-Ed: Once Again, POLITICO Ignores Palestinian Rejectionism and Terror

“Joe Biden,” a Politico headline blared on April 6, 2021, “is not planning to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This may or may not be true. But what is clear is that Politico isn’t interested in providing readers with the truth about the conflict.

President Biden, reporter Nahal Toosi notes, has yet to name a special envoy to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And “aside from taking a few small steps” such as “restoring some modest aid to the Palestinians,” Biden is “signaling that the conflict is simply not a priority.”

Toosi speculates on possible reasons for this apparent lack of interest: prioritization of Sino-American relations, the dust settling from elections in Israel, and scheduled elections for the Palestinian Authority. But, she says, “some warn that by de-prioritizing the issue or moving too slowly, Biden could be putting a two-state solution out of reach, especially if Israel keeps expanding its settlements in territory claimed by the Palestinians.”

According to Politico’s framing, Jewish home construction — and not the Palestinian leadership’s affinity for rejecting peace and celebrating terror — is somehow responsible for the lack of a two-state solution.

Contrary to what Politico would have you believe, Palestinian leaders have rejected numerous offers for a “two-state solution,” in which two states, one Arab and the other Jewish, would live side-by-side and in peace.

Palestinian leaders have refused opportunities for statehood going back to the 1930s: rejecting the recommendations of the 1937 Peel Commission Report, the 1947 Partition Plan, as well as efforts following the 1967 Six-Day War and the Camp David Agreement with Egypt, among others.

Indeed, in the last 20 years alone, Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders rejected — without counteroffers — US and Israeli offers in 2000, 2001, and 2008. The latter offer would have provided Palestinians with 93.7% of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), a capital in eastern Jerusalem, and land swaps for the remaining 6.3% of “West Bank” territory. That offer served as the basis for US proposals to restart negotiations in 2014 and 2016 — the latter made by then-Vice President Biden himself.

All were rejected out of hand, despite the fact that the Oslo Accords, which created the PA, call for outstanding issues to be resolved in bilateral negotiations. As part of Oslo, Palestinian leaders promised to “renounce the use of terrorism and other acts of violence,” to promote peace and stability, and to amend the Palestinian National Charter, which denied Israel’s right to exist.

Yet, as the Jewish Policy Center’s Shoshana Bryen has noted, that charter was never amended. And PA leaders have outright refused to quit paying salaries to terrorists who murder and maim innocent Jews — men, women, and children. The PA’s refusal to end “pay to slay” and its rejection of peace negotiations is what led the US to cut its financial assistance — a fact that Toosi omits. Regrettably, that isn’t the only omission.

In an article that runs more than 2,300 words, Politico’s foreign correspondent fails to detail any of the rejected peace offers. It is as if they never happened. Instead, she indulges in false equivalency, writing that “Top Biden aides have said they can’t pursue a peace deal when neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis appear ready for serious conversations.” Yet, as noted above, Israel has made serious proposals. The Palestinian leadership, by contrast, refuses to stop paying people to murder Jews. There is no equivalency.

Toosi has authored more than a dozen reports on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the last five years alone. And yet, in a review of these dispatches, over thousands and thousands of words, CAMERA was unable to find a single instance of her informing Politico readers about the long history of Palestinian leaders rejecting offers for statehood and peace — and their support of terrorism and the murderers of children.

For someone who writes so often about the “lack of a Palestinian state,” a history of one-sided omissions on that scale is discrediting.

Elsewhere, Toosi asserts that “A growing number of Palestinians, many of them young, say Israel has obtained so much control over their land and their lives that it’s time to abandon the two-state ideal in favor of a one-state solution in which Palestinians have the same rights as Israelis.”

But Israeli Arabs do have the “same rights” as other Israelis. Further, what evidence is there that a majority of Palestinians — young or otherwise — ever favored a “two-state” solution on a permanent basis? In fact, polling suggests that the opposite is true.

The claim that Israel is “expanding settlements” into “land claimed by Palestinians” and thus hindering peace is also wrong. First, as Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has documented, Palestinian leaders and their official media outlets consider all of Israel to be “Palestinian land.” Secondly, Palestinian leaders have rejected peace and statehood long before Israel’s taking control of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), which it acquired from Jordan as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War.

Nor are the settlements — that is to say, Jewish homes built in the Jewish people’s ancestral homeland of Judea and Samaria — “expanding” on a monumental scale. Just four years ago, a March 31, 2017, a Washington Post report, for example, was entitled “Israel set to approve first new settlement in 20 years.”

Indeed, as Peace Now, the left-wing anti-settlements organization inadvertently noted in June 2016: “In 2015, as in the preceding five years, almost 90 percent of the 15,523 individuals who joined the population of Judea and Samaria were the result of natural population growth [i.e. high birth rates, and not newcomers from other parts of Israel].”

Similarly, the Washington Post in a September 17, 2017, editorial detailed the “revelatory” results of a study on settlements conducted by David Makovsky, a former aide to US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The Post pointed out:

“Of the some 600,000 settlers who live outside Israel’s internationally recognized borders, just 94,000 are outside the border-like barrier that Israel built through the West Bank a decade ago. Just 20,000 of those moved in since 2009, when [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu returned to office; in a sea of 2.9 million Palestinians, they are hardly overwhelming. Last year, 43 percent of the settler population growth was in just two towns that sit astride the Israeli border — and that Abbas himself has proposed for Israeli annexation. ”

Put simply: Jewish home construction is not what is curbing a “two-state solution.” Numerous facts — obscured from Politico readers — confirm as much.

But Politico isn’t interested in facts. Or history. Or objectivity. Instead, the newspaper continues its well-worn habit of pushing an anti-Israel narrative that is meant to influence policy — as opposed to detailing it. In this case, it seems clear that Toosi and many of her sources were seeking to pressure the new administration. That she had to hide facts and obscure the truth in order to do so, speaks volumes.

(Note: A slightly different version of this article appeared as an op-ed in the Algemeiner on April 14, 2021)

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