In its Thursday, Oct. 14 edition, the Washington Post runs a six-column headline across page A15 that reads: "Palestinian Authority counters Israeli offer on settlements:
The headline is above an article by Jerusalem correspondent Joel Greenberg, who reports that in response to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's offer to extend a construction freeze in West Bank settlements if Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a top Palestinian official said such recognition could be granted if Israel completely pulls back to its pre-1967 borders, leaving room for a Palestinian state in all of Gaza, all of the West Bank and all of East Jerusalem.
Greenberg describes the counter-offer by Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior adviser to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, as a "Palestinian counterproposal," giving it the same weight as Netanyahu's own offer.
Except it is nothing of the sort, and Greenberg should have been well aware of that many hours before the Post's deadline for the Thursday paper.
For one thing, to put Abed Rabbo's proposal in the same category as Netanyahu's offer would have required an endorsement from Abbas. But Abbas was silent. Even when Abed Rabbo was speaking to Haaretz, a left-wing Israeli newspaper, and other media, he was only speaking for himself. At most, this was a one-man trial balloon by a single Palestinian official, bereft of any authoritative weight.
But it gets worse.
No sooner had Abed Rabbo's counter-offer been aired than it was immediately disowned and attacked by Palestinian political factions across the entire West Bank. The ruling Fatah movement in the West Bank strongly condemned Abed Rabbo's offer and called for his immediate dismissal.
Abed Rabbo himself quickly began to back-track, saying he had been misquoted in Haaretz and that there was only a "possibility" of recognizing a Jewish state if the Obama administration offered a map with final borders that completely agreed with all Palestinian demands.
In other words, the story collapsed by mid-day, Washington time. And its collapse was duly reported by the Jerusalem Post in an article posted on its website at 6 PM, Wednesday, Israel time, long before the Washington Post's deadline for the Thursday paper.
So why would the Post nevertheless proceed to print not only an outdated story, but a thoroughly refuted one? And why did Greenberg apparently fail to find out if Mahmoud Abbas endorsed such a peace offer before filing his piece, and if he did but couldn't get an answer, why didn't he report that?
If one wants to draw real-world conclusions from the Abed Rabbo fiasco, it clearly demonstrates that even if the Palestinians obtain total satisfaction on borders, they're still not prepared to recognize Israel as a Jewish state -- the very opposite of what the Post's headline and article proclaim.
The peace process is complicated enough without the Washington Post engaging in such thoroughly disreputable journalism.