Historical Revisionism at the New York Times about Mideast Peace Plans

Although we’ve said it time and time again, it bears repeating: Anyone interested in the news rather than just a rote repetition of Palestinian propaganda points should not be using the New York Times as a source. NYT journalists have abdicated serious reporting and thoughtful analysis in favor of a mechanical bad-Israel-good-Palestinian-narrative.

Take, for example, the NYT’s “news analysis” of the latest Mideast peace plan. Correspondents David Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner began by parroting Palestinian propaganda lines:

*For Mahmoud Abbas, the ailing octogenarian president of the Palestinian Authority, his life’s work – a viable state side-by-side with Israel – is quickly slipping away…

*President Trump’s Middle East plan deprives the Palestinians of nearly everything they had been fighting for…

*While it was always presumed that such a state would be forged through talks with the Israelis, years of failure, a weak and divided Palestinian leadership, and an Arab world that has largely moved on have all emboldened Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to try to impose a solution of their own…

In the Times‘s telling, the roles remain ever the same – US President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are the villains while the Palestinian leaders, in this case Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, are the victims without agency of their own. Gone entirely from this narrative of “failed” peace proposals is Palestinian rejectionism. The New York Times is unable to acknowledge the truth – that time and time again, Palestinian leaders have rejected offers of an independent state.

The Arab leaders in 1947 rejected the partition plan to divide the area into two states. They refused to accept any Jewish state in the region and chose to launch a war instead to annihilate the nascent state. Had they been willing to compromise, as Jewish leaders were, an independent Palestinian state would have celebrated multiple decades of anniversaries, as has the State of Israel.

Yasir Arafat, the revolutionary PLO leader (and father of modern terrorism) similarly rejected statehood at the Camp David talks brokered by US President Clinton in 2000. Then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak accepted huge concessions demanded of Israel for the sake of peace. Arafat, on the other hand, turned his back on negotiations when he realized that the peace proposal did not allow him to end a Jewish state. Instead, he reverted to what he knew best – orchestrating a terror campaign against Israeli civilians.

In 2008, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas walked away from peace talks and rejected a state offered by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on over 90% of the West Bank (the reported figures differ on exactly how much 93-97%), plus equivalent Israeli territory ceded in exchange, with Jerusalem divided between the two. In addition, Olmert accepted the principle of Palestinian refugees returning to the State of Israel – something that no other Israeli leader was willing to do. Yet, Abbas walked away, unwilling to accept anything less than 100% of Palestinian demands.

The reason for the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and failure to negotiate peace has always been the outright rejection by Palestinian leaders of a Jewish state in the region, within any boundaries. Their refusal to accept compromise, as opposed to Israel’s leaders, is the reason why there is still no peace agreement. (For more, see here.)

As for the newspaper’s depiction of an aging, ailing leader who has always dreamt and labored for a two-state peace where an independent Palestinian state would exist in peace alongside a Jewish one, that is a complete fabrication. The PA leader – who was elected by the Palestinian people in 2005 for a 4-year term and has held on to his leadership role (without any further elections) ever since – has consistently rejected the notion of a neighboring Jewish state.

In 2011 Abbas emphasized his rejection of the entire notion of a neighboring Jewish state in a television interview:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a ‘Jewish state.’

In January 2014, the PA president again declared:

The Palestinians won’t recognize the Jewishness of the State of Israel and won’t accept it. The Israelis say that if we don’t recognize the Jewishness of Israel there would be no solution. And we say that we won’t recognize or accept the Jewishness of Israel and we have many reasons for this rejection.

And later insisted, “No one can force us to recognize Israel as Jewish state.”

He explained his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state to the PLO Central Council in 2015:

We won’t accept a Jewish state…because of the many things it would mean in the future.

At a Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting in 2016, Abbas reiterated:

Palestinian leadership categorically rejects the idea of a Jewish Israel. 

Commenting about potential peace talks brokered by the Obama administration, a PA official for Abbas described his leader’s position:

Our position remains as clear as ever: there will be no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and no compromise on the right of return, which must be solved according to UN resolution 194.

Lest anyone is uncertain about what the Palestinian Authority’s rejection of a Jewish state signifies, Abbas’ foreign minister and chief negotiator Nabil Shaath explained his leader’s position on a two-state peace proposal in July 2011:

[The French initiative] reshaped the issue of the “Jewish state” into a formula that is also unacceptable to us – two states for two peoples. They can describe Israel itself as a state for two peoples, but we will be a state for one people. The story of “two states for two peoples” means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this – not as part of the French initiative and not as part of the American initiative. (ANB TV, July 13, 2011)

Palestinian leaders have instead instilled in their people the notion that Israel has no right to exist,  that Jews have no history or rights in the region that Jews, that Israelis are evil interlopers trying to take over Muslim holy sites and that it is incumbent upon Muslims and Palestinians to wage violent jihad in order to protect these sites.

The consistent refusal of Abbas to accept Israel as a Jewish state, coupled with the unwillingness to relinquish the so-called right of return into Israel’s borders evokes former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat’s “phased” strategy for ultimately taking over the Jewish state. This is spelled out in the Palestine National Council’s 1974 ten point program, known as the “Phased Plan” for Israel’s destruction. Its basis is to first create a Palestinian state on any territory that is handed over by Israel (Article 2) and then to use that state to “complete the liberation of all Palestinian territory.” (Article 8).

Arafat revealed how the peace agreement he had signed would enable his plan of eliminating a Jewish state at a closed door meeting with Arab diplomats in Stockholm in 1996. He is widely quoted as follows:

We of the PLO will now concentrate all our efforts on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps. Within five years we will have six to seven million Arabs living on the West Bank and in Jerusalem. All Palestinian Arabs will be welcomed back by us. If the Jews can import all kinds of Ethiopians, Russians, Uzbekians and Ukranians as Jews, then we can import all kinds of Arabs to us. We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian State. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion; Jews will not want to live among us Arabs.

I have no use for Jews; they are and remain Jews. We now need all the help we can get from you in our battle for a united Palestine under total Arab-Moslem domination.

Two years later– a decade after presumably having accepted a two state solution and several years after signing the peace accord with Israel, Arafat explained what the Oslo peace accords meant to him. In a 1998 interview on Egyptian Orbit TV, Arafat invoked the Palestine National Council’s “phased plan” and compared the Oslo Accords to the ” Hudaybiyyah” treaty of the Prophet Mohammed with the Quraysh tribe, a hudna , or temporary truce, that remained in effect just until Mohammed’s men were strong enough to defeat the tribe.

Palestinian recognition of the Jewish right to self-determination parallels Israel’s recognition of a Palestinian right to self-determination, forming the basis of a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The consistent refusal by Palestinian negotiators and leaders, including Abbas, to recognize Israel as the eternal homeland of the Jewish people thus lies at the heart of the conflict. A peace agreement that is not predicated upon acceptance of a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East indicates that Palestinians do not view two neighboring sovereign states – Jewish and Palestinian – as a long term solution to the conflict, but rather as a temporary truce that can be altered at a more opportune time.

Were New York Times journalists to report truthfully on Abbas’ rejection of a two-state solution of neighboring Arab and Jewish states,  they would have to change their propagandistic narrative of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  And so they continue to distort and revise history to maintain a phony but consistent narrative about who is to blame in the ongoing conflict.