NYT Absolves Abbas from all Sins

Israel plans to free more than 100 Palestinian terrorist killers as an inducement for resumption of peace talks. But leave it to the New York Times to still blame Israel for lack of progress in the peace process, while Palestinians emerge squeaky clean ("Palestinians In Peace Talks With Israel Are Resigning" by Isabel Kershner, Nov. 1, page A11)

Kershner leads off by reporting that Palestinian negotiators have submitted their resignations to protest continuing Israel settlement construction. But she immediately has to back-pedal and acknowledge this is an old ploy and Mahmoud Abbas is not about to torpedo negotiations. So why give this top priority?

Well, because the Times and Kershner proceed from the assumption that only Israel is an obstacle to peace and that Palestinians must be accorded every whim, wish and demand to smooth the path toward peace.

Thus, Kershner's main beef is with Israel advancing housing construction plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in parallel with release of Palestinian prisoners. Far be it for Kershner to point out that any such construction is within existing settlements and within Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. No land grab there.
Any such facts don't interest Kershner. Her priority is to give vent to Palestinian objections. Israeli construction, she writes, has "deeply embarrassed the Palestinians." And in case any reader doesn't get the import of this, she adds a quote from an unidentified Palestinian official that "this is a humiliation process, not a negotiation process." At the Times, it must be understood, embarrassing or humiliating Abbas is strictly verboten.

No mention, however, by Kershner of Israel's embarrassment and humiliation of having to release Palestinian killers just to get the Palestinians to the negotiating table. Israeli sensitivities don't count with Kershner and the Times.
Proceeding further with her deep solicitude for Palestinians, Kershner adds that "in particular, the Palestinian leadership is furious over claims that were made this week in the Israeli news media and by internal enemies of Mr. Abbas that he had agreed to settlement building in return for the release of prisoners." Beware of Abbas conceivably cutting some deals with Israel. In Kershner's world, the No. 1 imperative is to preserve Abbas's pure and pristine image. So, Kershner emphasizes that any quid-pro-quo arrangement is the invention of Abbas's "internal enemies." Abbas, she reports, considers "such talk as nonsense because Palestinians would never agree to settlement construction."

If things go awry or negotiations hit a snag, jump with both feet on Israel, but never, ever find fault with Abbas -- never mind that in parallel with peace talks he shows no signs of abating a vicious anti-Israel incitement campaign, demonizing Israel to a fare-thee-well, and denying Jewish ties to Jerusalem. Don't expect that to fit the Times motto of "all the news that's fit to print."

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