NY Times perpetuates the big lie -- ''Settlements are the problem''

In the Dec. 23 edition of the New York Times, Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner has a lengthy, front-page article that perpetuates the paper's ideological bent to blame Israeli settlements as the prime villains spoiling chances for an Israeli-Palestinian peace ("West Bank Settlement Boom Sows New Obstacles to Peace Deal").

Sprinkling alarming tones throughout his piece, Bronner reports that thousands of new housing units have been going up in West Bank settlements since Israel recently ended a temporary construction moratorium.

"This means that if negotiations ever get back on track, there will be thousands more Israeli settlers who will have to relocate into Israel," he writes.  "The international community considers all settlement building to be illegitimate and illegal."

It's a well-trod line at the NY Times of pinning the blame on Israel -- while shielding the Palestinians from having to meet Israel half-way.  But it's also a baseless slap at the Jewish state.

For one thing, Bronner fails to mention that settlements occupy less than 2 percent of the West Bank and that Israel repeatedly has offered to withdraw from the vast majority of settlements since the founding of the state in exchange for a genuine peace deal.

To wit:

-- There would be no West Bank settlements had the Arabs accepted the UN's two-state partition resolution in 1947.

--.The new settlement construction that so preoccupies Bronner would be non-existent had Yasser Arafat not rejected a generous Palestinian statehood deal advanced by Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton in 2000-2001.  It envisaged a Palestinian state in nearly the entire West Bank.

--Ditto again if Mahmoud Abbas had not rejected an even more generous two-state agreement offered by Ehud Olmert as recently as 2008.

All this Palestinian rejectionism fails to make any appearance in Bronner's piece.  Yet, it is exactly this rejectionism which points to the real obstacle blocking any progress in the peace process -- insistence by the Palestinian side and the Arab world that Israel accept a phony peace, a suicidal peace -- either by leaving the Middle East, as Hamas insists, or by agreeing to a "right of return" of millions of Palestinians to Israel -- a demographic knock-out punch of the Jewish state, as Mahmoud Abbas demands.

The current irony in all this is that the New York Times has lost one of its most kindred spirits in the game of blaming "settlements" as the overriding obstacle to a peace deal -- none other than President Obama himself.   After obsessing on "settlements" for nearly two years, Obama has concluded that he was headed into a dead-end and that there are other, more transcendent, issues and disagreements that need to be tackled.  Accordingly, he reset his negotiating strategy, leaving the Times without its most prominent partner in turning Jewish "settlers" into scapegoats.
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