WaPo's grim preview of Bibi trip to DC -- When spin turns into outright distortion

In its May 18 edition, the Washington Post carries an article by Jerusalem correspondent Joel Greenberg that grimly depicts Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to D.C. as beset by pressures at home and abroad to "take the initiative and break the impasse in Middle East peacemaking."  Greenberg avers that Bibi has "drawn fire" for failing to advance a "bold plan of his own to put on the table."  ("Netanyahu urged to take the lead, revive talks" page A7).

This, of course, is the standard Post line in its news coverage that it's always up to Israel to advance the peace process, while the Palestinians are free to demands more and more concessions.

And since Bibi doesn't lack for critics in Israel or in fashionable U.S. circles, Greenberg has no difficulty in cherry-picking unfavorable comments about the prime minister and to artificially set the expectations bar unrealistically high for his visit so as to be able to declare his trip a bummer after he returns home.

It's a transparently familiar dump-on-Bibi game and Greenberg plays it for all it's worth.

But Greenberg goes beyond spin and crosses the line when he resorts to outright distortions to slam Netnyahu. He depicts Netanyahu as returning virtually empty-handed from a recent trip to Europe in which he tried to enlist Western leaders to oppose Mahmoud Abbas's bid at the UN for unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

Greenberg cites a statement by President Sarkozy that France would recognize Palestinian statehood if peace talks remain stalled.  But that was before Sarkozy's meeting with Netanyahu, during which the French president, taking note of Abbas's "unity" deal with Hamas, told Bibi that only a Palestinian government prepared to renounce violence and recognize Israel could qualify for international recognition -- a Sarkozy position conveniently discarded by Greenberg.

Greenberg also claims that British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to recognize Palestinian statehood if peace talks remain frozen -- a claim that doesn't mesh with an official statement put out by 10 Downing Street that Cameron emphasized that Palestinian statehood hinges on renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel and willingness to resume the peace process.

And to complete his false depiction of Bibi's diplomatic challenges in Europe, Greenberg makes no mention whatsoever of German Chancellor Merkel's admonition to a visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin that Germany opposes unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood and that she urged him to return to negotiations.

Similarly, there is no mention in Greenberg's story of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's assurances to Israel that Rome is firmly opposed to any unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, and that Italy's stance also reflected the views of the European Union.

With such glaring omissions and distortions, Greenberg and the Post lose all credibility.
In its May 18 edition, the Washington Post carries an article by Jerusalem correspondent Joel Greenberg that grimly depicts Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to D.C. as beset by pressures at home and abroad to "take the initiative and break the impasse in Middle East peacemaking."  Greenberg avers that Bibi has "drawn fire" for failing to advance a "bold plan of his own to put on the table."  ("Netanyahu urged to take the lead, revive talks" page A7).

This, of course, is the standard Post line in its news coverage that it's always up to Israel to advance the peace process, while the Palestinians are free to demands more and more concessions.

And since Bibi doesn't lack for critics in Israel or in fashionable U.S. circles, Greenberg has no difficulty in cherry-picking unfavorable comments about the prime minister and to artificially set the expectations bar unrealistically high for his visit so as to be able to declare his trip a bummer after he returns home.

It's a transparently familiar dump-on-Bibi game and Greenberg plays it for all it's worth.

But Greenberg goes beyond spin and crosses the line when he resorts to outright distortions to slam Netnyahu. He depicts Netanyahu as returning virtually empty-handed from a recent trip to Europe in which he tried to enlist Western leaders to oppose Mahmoud Abbas's bid at the UN for unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

Greenberg cites a statement by President Sarkozy that France would recognize Palestinian statehood if peace talks remain stalled.  But that was before Sarkozy's meeting with Netanyahu, during which the French president, taking note of Abbas's "unity" deal with Hamas, told Bibi that only a Palestinian government prepared to renounce violence and recognize Israel could qualify for international recognition -- a Sarkozy position conveniently discarded by Greenberg.

Greenberg also claims that British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to recognize Palestinian statehood if peace talks remain frozen -- a claim that doesn't mesh with an official statement put out by 10 Downing Street that Cameron emphasized that Palestinian statehood hinges on renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel and willingness to resume the peace process.

And to complete his false depiction of Bibi's diplomatic challenges in Europe, Greenberg makes no mention whatsoever of German Chancellor Merkel's admonition to a visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin that Germany opposes unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood and that she urged him to return to negotiations.

Similarly, there is no mention in Greenberg's story of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's assurances to Israel that Rome is firmly opposed to any unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, and that Italy's stance also reflected the views of the European Union.

With such glaring omissions and distortions, Greenberg and the Post lose all credibility.

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