CNN’s Amanpour Misled Viewers About Rabin Assassination’s Effect On Peace Process

The October 29  conversation between CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and Yonit Levi of Channel 12 News in Israel was likely to have led viewers to believe that the assassination by an Israeli in November 1995 of Yitzhak Rabin, the then prime minister, could have derailed long-term chances for a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

However, this notion contradicts the historical record.

Amanpour and Levi (Oct. 29, 2020)

The conversation was an agreeable one

Amanpour: Just in terms of just the basic thing that he gave his life for, which is peace with the Palestinians — the two-state solution — it’s like nowhere to be found right now and there’s no big effort to even try to pretend to get it together.

Levi: That is true. You know, the assassin who shot Rabin in the back shot the heart of democracy. And his aim was, as we all know, his aim was to stop the peace process in its tracks. and we are sitting here a quarter of a century after, Christiane, and we know that there is no peace and there is no process with the Palestinians. And i think the question that resonates over this day, that question of virtual history — would we have peace, had Rabin lived.

Obviously, the obstacles and the challenges were huge. Obviously, Israelis experienced for many years after the Oslo accords were signed, from their perspective, a very dark period of terror attacks. And the more the attacks went on, the more the dwindling of their support for the peace process. But I think it’s so important to think of Yitzhak Rabin’s character today. he had that rare combination of being one of the founding fathers of Israel, the hero of the 1967 war. He didn’t come to peace from that perspective, from the liberal perspective. He was a pragmatist. and because of his sort of rough and gruff character, because Israelis trusted him, he was the one that could take them over that threshold to maybe convince them to take the risks for peace…

Amanpour: And of course, the head of the Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu, won that election. But I guess the question 25 years later is, what has it meant for Israel itself, the Israeli society, the fact that there isn’t a two-state solution, and you know, many potentially saying maybe there will be a one-state solution.

What Rabin would have likely done

However, Amanpour’s claim, if implicit, that Rabin’s murder halted the peace process doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Indeed, the historical record shows that Rabin had qualms about the creation of a sovereign Palestinian Arab state.

As Efraim Inbar, the president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security,  writes:

Rabin was ready for a territorial compromise with the Palestinians, but he certainly was not willing to pull back to the 1967 borders and definitely never considered ceding any territory within the Green Line. He insisted on the need for defensible borders, and in his last speech to the Knesset, on Oct. 5, 1995, he laid out his territorial vision: A secure border that would protect Israel in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest sense of that term, and changes that would make Gush Etzion, Efrat, Betar and other settlements to the east of what was the Green Line before the Six-Day War part of Israel. Of course, a united Jerusalem was part of the map he sketched out. He added that the Palestinian entity would be “less than a state and would manage independently the lives of the Palestinians living under it.” His words fit in wonderfully with the Israeli consensus today… The true Rabin legacy can be the basis of national consensus… It’s possible that the Oslo experiment had to be tried, and fail, to bring Israeli society to the majority opinion that exists today – that there is no Palestinian partner for peace.

The Palestinian position

The thinking espoused in the Amanpour broadcast ignores the role of Palestinian leadership. As CAMERA’s Ricki Hollander has documented, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Arafat’s “doublespeak about the peace accords with Rabin is well documented. To Western audiences he spoke of the ‘peace of the brave’ while at the same time assuring the Palestinian people that the agreement represented only the first stage of the ‘phased plan’ to achieve their ultimate goal of replacing a Jewish state with a Palestinian one.”

And as CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal has noted, it is erroneous to “imply that the Oslo process died with Rabin in 1995, and that since then Israel has made no moves towards peace, merely engaging in fruitless talks… In reality, following Rabin’s death, Netanyahu, in his first term (May 1996 to July 1999) implemented a series of West Bank withdrawals… After the Netanyahu withdrawals, the Palestinian side also had civil control (Area B) over a further 18.6 percent of the West Bank. The Gaza airport was also opened during Netanyahu’s term. Only in the face of massive Palestinian violations of the agreements did Netanyahu finally suspend further re‑deployments…”

In 2000, the United States and Israel offered Palestinian leadership a state on all of the Gaza Strip and more than 90 percent of the West Bank, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital. Arafat refused and started the second intifada, a five year long terror war in which more than 1,000 Israeli citizens were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. 

In 2001, U.S. and Israeli negotiators repeated the proposal, including virtually all the West Bank. Once again, Arafat rejected the offer. In the nearly two-decades since, the PA has used its schools, mosques and officials to fuel daily incitement to hatred and violence against Jews. In fact, PA officials have even paid salaries to those who carry out terror attacks.

The PA’s rejection of peace and support for terror is entrenched and undeniable. Yet it often escapes media scrutiny. One exception was an Oct. 18, 2015 Wall Street Journal report which noted Palestinian rhetoric that Amanpour viewers might be unaware of: “Mr. Abbas, the PA president, said the following on Palestinian television on Sept. 16: ‘We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.’”

The more things change, the more they stay the same

CNN’s segment implied that the murder of Yitzhak Rabin ended the “peace process” when, in fact, it was the decision by Palestinian leadership to reject peace and statehood and embrace terror that achieved that end. Indeed, Rabin’s own comments indicate that he himself had considerable security concerns and did not support full statehood for the Palestinians.

A thrust of Amanpour’s Israel-related segments has been to shift the onus from the Palestinians to Israel. Biasing the network’s viewers against Israel is nothing new for Amanpour and CNN as CAMERA has extensively documented for decades.