The New York Times is right on the mark with an editorial warning that a Palestinian statehood vote at the UN would be a calamity for Mideast peace prospects. ("Palestinian Statehood" editorial page, Sept. 11). But the editorial is demonstrably flat wrong in denouncing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the prime obstacle to renewed negotiations.
It makes one wonder how far the Times has parted with reality when the editorial mindlessly asserts that "we put the greater onus on Mr. Netanyahu, who has used any excuse to thwart peace efforts" and when the editorial asks Congress to desist from threats to cut off U.S. aid and urges lawmakers instead to "lean on Mr. Netanyahu to return to talks."
Nobody needs to lean on the Israeli leader to return to talks. Netanyahu has for many months urged immediate resumption of direct talks between him and the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, without pre-condtions by either side. It is Abbas, not Netanyahu, who has held up negotiations by insisting on Israel's return to the 1967 lines and by demanding a freeze on Jewish construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as the price for returning to the table.
Netanyahu, for his part, has offered to travel to Ramallah to engage Abbas on all outstanding issues. Abbas, however, keeps avoiding direct talks because he dare not make necessary compromises that negotiations inevitably would require of both parties. He's got Hamas breathing down his neck, ready to denounce any realistic two-state solution as a treasonous, criminal act. And this, in the final analysis, is the real reason why Abbas instead is going to the UN for a largely symbolic pat on the head. Real negotiations with Israel are his poison.
Times editorial writers, in their cavalier dismissal of facts, seemingly feel no constraints to inject a modicum of truth in their demonization of Netanyahu. Their animus against Bibi is rooted in the Sulzbergers' long-standing opposition to Zionism and Jewish sovereignty, which Netanyahu so fiercely and proudly embodies.