NY Times derides Netanyahu's two-state plan, but gives uncritical play to Abbas's agenda

In its May 17 edition, the New York Times carries a dispatch by Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner about Prime Minister Netanyahu's negotiating positions to achieve a two-state solution.

In a preview of his address to a joint session of Congress, Netanyahu told the Knesset that Israel would want to retain a unified Jerusalem as its capital, cede most of the West Bank, except for several large Jewish settlement blocs, and demand Palestinian recognition of Israel as the home of the Jewish nation, resolution of the Palestinian refugees problem entirely within the new state of Palestine, and an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley.  ("Israel Leader Outlines Points of Negotiation Before U.S. Trip" Page A4).

Bronner, however, is not content to give Times readers a straightforward summation of Netanyahu's agenda.  Immediately, in his lead paragraph, he firmly turns thumbs down on Netanyahu's positions.  The Israeli leader, he writes, is "still pursuing a far more hawkish approach  than any Palestinian leader is likely to accept."

Elaborating on his negative verdict of Netanyahu's stance, Bronner writes that "Palestinian leaders have repeatedly rejected every one of those (Israeli negotiating positions).  As a result of the impasse, they have been pursuing other approaches to statehood, including political unity with Hamas and a plan to ask the United Nations in September to recognize a state of Palestine within the 1967 boundaries.  That would include East Jerusalem and all of the West Bank and Gaza."

In other words, if there is an impasse in the peace process -- and there certainly is -- it's entirely Netanyahu's fault for not making far more generous concessions that Palestinian leaders might end up accepting.

What is so evident about Bronner's biased reporting is that he never applies the same standard of inadequate peace proposals to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's demands. Somehow, Bronner is content with just reporting Abbas's demands, without noting that they're also bound to be rejected by any Israeli leader -- not just Netanyahu.

If the Times sees fit to deride Netanyahu's peace offer as totally inadequate, why not also deride Abbas's stance as a complete non-starter?  Why not put Israel and the Palestsinians on the same scale?

Bronner, for example, fails to point out that, under Abbas's demand that Israel withdraw to the pre-1967 armistice line, Judaism's holiest shrines -- the Western Wall and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs in Hebron -- would end up in a Palestinian state.  Certainly good enough reason for Israel to balk.  But readers wouldn't know it reading Bronner's piece.

In its biased coverage, the Times is concerned only about Palestinian sensibilities when it comes to a final peace deal -- but not at all about Israeli sensibilities in regard to what kind of a state they would be left with.

In sum, the Times views Israel's demands through a glass darkly, but fails to examine Abbas's demands through the same critical lens.

As is made quite clear in a Times op-ed piece by Abbas in the same May 17 edition about his insistence on a Palestinian state within the 1967 ''border" and a "just solution  for Palestinian refugees based on UN Resolution 194."  Nowhere does Bronner or the Times point out that Abbas interprets Resolution 194 as giving millions of Palestinian "refugees" an absolute "right of return"  to Israel -- a demographic death blow to the Jewish state.

When Netanyahu trots out his peace plan, Bronner and the Times are quick to pronounce it dead on arrival because it won't satisfy Abbas.  But when Abbas trots out a peace plan that would eliminate the Jewish state, there's nary a murmur of disapproval by Bronner or the Times -- no corresponding verdict, to borrow Bronner's words, that Abbas has a "more hawkish approach than any Israeli leader is likely to accept."
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