Israel evacuates a settlement, but gets whacked by NY Times anyway

This week saw a generally peaceful evacuation of 30 Jewish settlers from a Beit El neighborhood in the West Bank -- a move ordered by Israel's Supreme Court which found that five buildings were on Palestinian land.  For the affected settlers, it was a wrenching experience, but with urgings from their rabbi to comply peacefully, they packed up and moved to new housing elsewhere in Beit El.

One would think that such compliance with a lawful court order on a highly politically sensitive issue might be depicted as Israel going the extra mile to advance the peace process -- but not by the New York Times.  In fact, in its June 27 edition, the Times runs a purported news article by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren that manages to use this event to indict Israel as driving another nail in the coffin of a two-state solution. ("Settlers Begin Mandatory Evacuation of a West Bank Outpost" page A10).

In Rudoren's view, Israel -- and only Israel -- stands in the way of a peace deal with the Palestinians.  Mahmoud Abbas is automatically forgiven for refusing to resume negotiations.

Rudoren's real thrust is to focus on a compromise with the settlers forged by Prime Minister Netanyahu -- in exchange for removal of this Beit El neighborhood, Israel will build another 300 homes in parts of Beit El that don't sit on Palestinian land.  But why should this be an impediment to achieving a two-state solution since Israel intends to keep Beit El in any two-state peace deal anyway?  Plenty of room would be left on the West Bank for a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.

With an assist from some "experts" dug up by Rudoren, the Times draws its own conclusion that, to achieve peace, Israel must cede all of Beit El to a Palestinian state.  Never mind what Israel might demand if peace talks ever resume.   Never mind exactly what borders would be drawn for a Palestinian state.  Rudoren and the Times, with all their imperious chutzpah, already have determined that Beit El, a town of 7,000 residents north of Jerusalem, must and will end up on the Palestinian side. 

Here's how Rudoren puts it:

"While Palestinians and their supporters saw the court ruling as a moral victory, the practical result is an expansion of the settlement enterprise.  Several experts said the agreement further diminishes the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and some saw the deal as a sign that Mr. Netanyahu was leaning toward a unilateral rather than bilateral approach to the issue, with Israel essentially defining the borders of a future Palestinian state.

"Beit El, about 15 miles from Jerusalem, is seen by most experts as one of the settlements that would be removed if a peace agreement were reached with the Palestinians, making its expansion now more significant."

And which "experts" prompt Rudoren to reach such a conclusion.  Well, she trots out Tzaly Reshef, one of the founders of Peace Now, a far-left advocacy group that regularly attacks Israel while supporting Palestinian demands.  "There is no solution with Beit El," Reshef tells Rudoren.  Reshef, of course, is no "expert."  He's a crusader for the Palestinian agenda.

But in the view of Rudoren and the New York Times, Reshef and Peace Now trump the democratically elected government of Israel. With Rudoren, Israel's agenda doesn't count.  Only Peace Now's pro-Palestinian agenda has validity in her eyes.

In sum, Rudoren's piece boils down to an anti-Israel editorial disguised as a news story.  Readers beware.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

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