In Wash. Post, up is down, down is up, whatever suits its agenda
Ten days ago, the Quartet of international mediators -- the United States, the European Union, UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, and Russia -- issued an "urgent appeal" to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to "resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or pre-conditions."
The Quartet laid out a fast timetable -- agreement on an agenda in one month, comprehensive proposals by both sides on territory and security within three months, substantial agreement on territory and security within six months and a final peace deal by the end of 2012.
This remains the gist of the key, operative parts of the Quartet's statement. Not difficult to understand, one would think, especially in light of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's repeated calls for immediate resumption of peace talks without pre-conditions, as the Quartet demands, and the Palestinians' insistence on two pre-conditions -- an Israeli building freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and borders in sync with the 1949 armistice line before talks even get under way
The Quartet thus sides with Netanyahu's insistence on no pre-condtions and opposes Palestinian insistence on pre-conditions. Right? One would think so. But not in the Washington Post, where Jerusalem correspondent Joel Greenberg tells readers that the Quartet statement was "positively received" by the Palestinians even before it was formally accepted by Israel. The Palestinians actually beat Israel to the punch. ("Israel agrees to talks proposal -- Settlement activity is still a stumbling block with Palestinians" page A10).
Here is Greenberg's lead paragraph:
"Israel on Sunday agreed to a proposal by international mediators to resume peace negotiations after the initiative was positively received by the Palestinians, but there were no signs that a dispute over Israeli settlement building that has blocked talks was any closer to being resolved."
Talk about a convoluted lead to peddle an upside-down notion. Never mind that the Palestinians reject entering into negotiations without pre-conditions, it's still Israel which is to blame for the absence of negotiations, while the Palestinians are applauded for their "positive" reception of the Quartet plan -- and never mind that they really reject it.
As Humpty Dumpty says in "Alice in Wonderland": "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean." Ditto Joel Greenberg.
But where and how does Greenberg manage to twist the Quartet's statement to suit the Palestinians?
Well, the Quartet statement, in a preface to its plan for resumed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, also calls for a "comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict" -- i.e. Israel's conflict with others in the Arab world like Syria and Lebanon. This wider conflict, the statement asserts, should be resolved on the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 238, which call for a return of some -- but not all -- lands Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, and also on the basis of the Roadmap -- a George W. Bush plan that called for the Palestinians to cease all violence and for Israel to halt "settlement activity."
Farther down in its statement, the Quartet reminds both parties that once talks get under way, there should be no Palestinian violence, and a freeze of Israeli "settlement activity" under Bush's Roadmap.
It's on this thin reed that Greenberg builds his lead paragraph that the Palestinians actually are in sync with the Quartet because they insist on a freeze of Jewish building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as a pre-condition for talks. What Greenberg overlooks, however, is that Netanyahu already has accepted a cessation of "settlement activity" because he has completely frozen construction of new settlements, halted expansion of settlements, and barred acquisition of any more lands for settlements. All such settlement "activities" are frozen.
The Bush plan -- floated when the second intifada still claimed Israeli lives -- doesn't actually or specifically prohibit construction within settlements, the only kind that's still occurring. It only speaks of "settlement activity," which effectively has been halted.
Greenberg, however, is so intent on bashing Israel even when it accepts an international peace proposal and so intent on protecting the Palestinians for their rejection of the plan that up is down and down is up and white is black and black is white -- all in pursuit of his anti-Israel agenda.
Humpty Dumpty, move over. You've got company at the Washington Post.