WaPo Spotlights Netanyahu, Shields Iran and Palestinians
Secretary of State John Kerry has completed his latest meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, claiming progress in peace talks. However, in summing up his trip, the Washington Post makes it seem that only Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu holds the key to successful completion of negotiations. On the other side of the negotiating table, Post correspondents Anne Gearan and William Booth absolve Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas of gumming up progress toward a two-state deal. And for good measure, they also embellish Iran's stance toward Western attempts to halt its nuclear program. ("Kerry lobbies Netanyahu to give Iran deal a chance" Dec. 6, page A12)
Starting with Iran, Gearan and Booth go out of their way to create the impression that the ayatollahs in Tehran are trustworthy. After all, they note, when it comes to nuclear weapons, "the country's leader has declared that they are "prohibited by Islam" -- a reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's alleged issuance of a fatwa (religious edict) banning development of atomic weapons. What they fail to tell Post readers is that this "fatwa" is a hoax.
As the Middle East Media Research Institute has repeatedly pointed out following exhaustive research, a fatwa ban on Iran nukes was "never issued by Supreme Leader Khamenei and does not exist; neither the regime nor anyone else can present it." MEMRI terms it a "deception" cooked up by the regime for several years, with "each time a different year of issue -- 2005, 2007 or 2012 -- but a text of the 'fatwa' was never presented."
The Post, however, accepts the allegedly anti-nuke fatwa hook, line, and sinker. Incidentally, President Obama also has fallen for the same hoax, citing the supposed Iranian "fatwa" against nuclear weapons in justifying his overtures to Tehran.
Now, let's proceed to Kerry's meeting with Mahmoud Abbas. Gearan and Booth tell Post readers that Abbas received plaudits from the secretary of state for sticking with peace talks despite construction in settlements and "Israel's fixation on security issues." What the Post's correspondents fail to mention is that when Kerry presented a U.S. bridging proposal to move both sides toward a peace agreement, Abbas flatly rejected it. Abbas argued that Kerry's plan for Israeli security along the eastern boundary of the West Bank would require leaving an IDF presence along the Jordan river and thus perpetuate "Israeli occupation" of a Palestinian state. Abbas' uncompromising position is that any Palestinian state must be Judenrein -- no Jews allowed.
None of this appears in the Post article. Abbas is spared criticism for thwarting Kerry's shuttle diplomacy. In fact, Abbas is portrayed as playing a positive role vis a vis Kerry's diplomacy. Palestinian officials ended up issuing a non-denial denial of widely available media reports of Abbas's rejection of Kerry's Israeli security plan. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat lamely tried to explain that Kerry hadn't yet presented a "final" security proposal -- in effect lending credence to Abbas's rejection of Kerry's "initial" proposal, which now forces Kerry to go back to the drawing boards.
Finally, we come to Kerry's meetings with Netanyahu, described in harsh, gloomy terms in the Gearan-Booth article. According to their report, Kerry presented Netanyahu with a virtual ultimatum on Iran negotiations, as their lead paragraph indicates: "He (Netanyahu) can allow the United States and other world powers some breathing room to achieve a satisfactory final deal with Iran, or he can dig in his heels against it."
Some supposedly tough Kerry talk with Netanyahu, but his ever so gentle treatment of Iran and the Palestinians -- the underlying spin of two Post correspondents
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers