Karl Vick Conceals Abbas’s Rejection of Negotiations

Time Magazine‘s Israel correspondent Karl Vick, who has a long history of biased reporting, showed in his Oct. 15, 2012 profile of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas how a journalist can omit facts and use vague formulations to make it seem as if the Palestinian leadership has no responsibility whatsoever for the lack of serious peace talks between the sides.

Here is the recipe for revisionism that Vick used to make Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, appear not as an actor whose decisions impact the quest of a peace deal, but merely as a victim of Israeli intransigence:

• First, suggest Abbas had little choice but to pursue his controversial unilateral bid for statehood at the U.N. as part of a necessary “search” for a way forward:

Eight years after being elected, Abu Mazen is no closer to delivering on the central promise of his campaign: ending the 45-year Israeli occupation through negotiations. And so he went to the U.N. in September in search of something to shake things up …

Don’t mention that, in fact, Abbas had recently rejected an Israeli peace proposal by Ehud Olmert, and that he subsequently refused Israeli calls to restart negotiations unconditionally.
• Then refer to Palestinian disenchantment with the fact that negotiations have not delivered what Palestinians demand:

While Israelis may now board buses and sip lattes in cafés all but free from the threat of suicide bombers, Palestinians complain of seeing no reward for showing the restraint that Abbas vowed would put an end to the Israeli occupation through negotiations.

Again, say nothing about Abbas’s rejection of a peace deal that would have given the Palestinians the ultimate reward of statehood, and that afterward no progress was made because Abbas shied away from negotiations.
• Repeat the exact same point a few paragraphs later:

It’s a painful paradox for the Palestinians, who watch the years pass without a peace deal and with ever growing numbers of Israeli homes appearing in the West Bank: Abu Mazen has done more in the past few years than any Palestinian ever has to keep Israelis safe.

But say nothing about the peace deal rejected by Abbas, or the ones rejected by his predecessor Yasir Araft. Remain silent about Abbas’s repeated refusal to unconditionally restart negotiations.
• Finally, you can eventually let on that there haven’t actually been substantive negotiations. But this should be done with sterile, imprecise language that describes talks as “foundering” amid disagreements. Quickly quote Abbas ignoring the option of sitting at the negotiating table with the Israelis:

In 2009, Israel announced it was freezing construction of new homes in its West Bank settlements for 10 months, but Abbas complained that the moratorium contained exceptions that permitted certain construction to carry on. Amid disagreements over the freeze, talks foundered in 2010. The building continues. “Every way is closed to me,” Abbas told Time last year.

In fact, Israelis repeatedly reiterated that Abbas had a path available to renewed, unconditional negotiations. But the Palestinian chose not to follow that open path. As he told Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl, “I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements. Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality … the people are living a normal life.”

If your readers don’t know that Abbas repeatedly made clear he was uninterested in unconditionally restarting negotiations, and if they don’t know that he rejected a peace deal put forward a few years earlier by Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then the blame appears to lie entirely with Israel.

Vick’s concealing of Palestinian responsibility for the failure of negotiations was not the only glaring problem in his piece. He made the relentless attacks against Israel by Gaza-based terrorists seem like nothing more than an occasional nuisance, writing that “missiles still fly out of Hamas-controlled Gaza from time to time….” When Vick wrote that sentence in October 2012, roughly 800 rockets and mortars had been fired toward Israel since the beginning of the year – an average of about 80 projectiles a month terrorizing the Israeli population.

For good measure, Vick also distorted the views of Israeli defense official Amos Gilad about Palestinian responsibility for a decrease in terror attacks against Israel. In Vick’s telling, the reduction in anti-Israel attacks from the West Bank is completely a result of Abbas’s policies:

… the iron grip of his Palestinian Authority on would-be resistance fighters is unquestioned. This has remade the Palestinian-controlled parts of the West Bank into the turf not of terrorist militias but of disciplined uniformed forces, adamant about keeping the peace. “We are living in our best, most convenient security conditions since—ever,” Amos Gilad, the No. 2 official in Israel’s Defense Ministry, said last year. “No terror.”

In fact, while Gilad acknowledged a Palestinian role in maintaining the calm, he also made clear that this role, while significant, is secondary to that played by Israel’s security establishment and by the Kingdom of Jordan. As he explained to reporters on April 3, 2012,

From a security perspective, the current period is a most convenient one for Israel. We are not suffering from terror, after long years of being attacked. This achievement is based on the unique intelligence capabilities that we have developed, combined with the operational capabilities of the IDF and state-of-the-art security in Jordan. I would like to thank Jordan, even though they are not doing it for us but for their own interests. Jordan’s state-of-the-art security is protecting a very complicated border. The outcome, from the Israeli point of view, is a dramatic contribution to our security. It is very difficult for terrorists to cross the Jordanian border, and we enjoy the benefits.

There is security coordination, but not cooperation, between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It is less significant than our own capabilities or those of Jordan, but it is quite significant.

It’s just another piece of information Vick hid from his readers.

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