WaPo Libels Netanyahu
Secretary of State John Kerry holds extensive talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who for the umpteenth time, assures him and the world that Israel is prepared for immediate resumption of peace negotiations without pre-conditions. Not only that, but Israel under Netanyahu is set to make painful concessions to achieve a two-state solution.
But that's not the way the Washington Post covers the Kerry-Netanyahu talks. In a dispatch from Tel Aviv, Post correspondent Anne Gearan cautions that Kerry "faces long odds." Why? Because, in her expressed view, "Netanyahu is considered hostile to negotiations despite public assurances that he would talk under the right conditions." ("Kerry, Netanyahu see steps toward peace talks" April 10, page A8).
What an Orwellian twist! Here's Netanyahu on record hundreds of times for immediate resumption of peace talks, but Gearan just doesn't believe him. In effect, she calls him a liar. And she imputes on him demands for "right conditions" to precede negotiations when he keeps insisting that he opposes any and all conditions prior to talks.
Actually, if there's one actor in this process who really is hostile against resumption of negotiations, it's Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been running away from talks for the last four years by insisting on prior unilateral Israeli concessions -- a freeze on Israeli construction in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlement and release of Palestinian terrorist prisoners as his "right conditions" for resuming talks.
Yet, Gearan makes no mention at all about Abbas gumming up the works and frustrating U.S. efforts to get the peace process going again. In his recent visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah, President Obama made it clear that the only path to progress is to start negotiations with a clean slate by either side -- no pre-conditions. Obama and Netanyahu are on the same page. But not in the Post or in Gearan's dispatch.
She instead credits Abbas with presiding over a "moderate" Palestinian Authority. The same Abbas who poisons the well with a vicious anti-Semitic propaganda campaign that, among other things, teaches young Palestinians on PA children's TV that Jews are "enemies of Allah, sons of pigs who murdered children, cut off their limbs, raped their women in the city square and defiled Allah's book."
But far be it from Gearan to so advise her readers that it is Abbas, not Netanyahu, who stands in the way of credible peace negotiations. When it comes to credibility, it's Abbas, not Netanyahu, who has a howling deficit.
Gearan is entitled to her own personal views, but not in the news pages of the Post where readers expect straightforward reporting -- not injection of personal bias.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers