Peter Oborne gives a free pass to Palestinian rejectionists
It is astonishing that Oborne's blatantly one-sided account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which eschews proper context, is allowed to pass for respectable journalism in Britain
Peter Oborne has offered yet another blatantly one-sided analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Telegraph. Oborne, notorious for his alleged exposé of Britain's 'Israel lobby' in 2011, pulls no punches about the up and coming Israeli elections.
Israel, he declares, “is moving very fast towards what in Britain would be called the extreme Right”. He cites some inflammatory remarks from Likud candidate Miri Regev (which concerned African migrants) and focuses on the popular pro-settler party Jewish Home, led by Naftali Bennett. Bennett, whose party is likely to become Israel's third biggest after the election, rejects the conventional two state solution.
Some of what Oborne says about the electorate's rightward shift is credible, reflected in the current make up of Likud's candidates. In the words of Israeli journalist David Horovitz, Netanyahu appears to be a 'dove' within the party for endorsing a Palestinian state. Centrist parties, such as Kadima, have collapsed in the polls and there is a growing disenchantment with the peace process.
But what is missing from Oborne's analysis is any sense of meaningful context. If there is disillusionment with the peace process, it is not just down to “mass immigration from Russia” or the “new self-confidence of the settler movement”. It reflects a realistic belief that Mahmoud Abbas can offer Israel nothing by way of meaningful negotiation.
Even before this election, the Palestinian leader was refusing to sit down and talk to Netanyahu despite the latter's persistent overtures. Abbas's visit to the General Assembly to seek non-member observer status for 'Palestine' abrogated the spirit of the Oslo accords and showed that he had turned his back on a negotiated settlement. Now his closer relationship with Hamas makes a breakthrough all but impossible to envisage.
Worse than this is the bad faith of the PA leader. Every day Israelis are exposed to a daily barrage of hatred and incitement with vile propaganda spewing forth from every organ of the Palestinian media. Only a fortnight ago, Abbas delivered a speech to the Fatah faithful that praised the leadership of the Mufti of Palestine. Yet the Mufti was a Nazi war criminal who sought to exterminate the Jews of Palestine with Hitler's help. Not surprisingly, such hatred is helping to radicalise ordinary West Bank Palestinians.
According to a very recent opinion poll carried out by a Ramallah-based research centre, some 88 percent of West Bank Palestinians believed that armed struggle is the right method to achieve independence. This accords with earlier polls which show a majority of Palestinians supporting a two state solution only as a stepping stone to the eventual 'liberation' of Palestine.
Of course, such extreme attitudes are commonplace in Gaza. For six years, this hub of terror has been ruled by militant Islamists who have vowed to eradicate the 'Zionist entity' and world Jewry from the face of the earth.
Yet none of this features on Oborne's political radar. In describing his visit to Ramallah, he declares that 'there was not a hint of violent language from Riad Malki, foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority'. (Palestinians are adept at playing the game of public diplomacy, as we know). In other words, the violence and extremism that Oborne so disapproves of can only be found on the Israeli side of the border. This view is so one-sided and sloppy that it beggars belief that any serious journalist could entertain it.
Oborne accepts without question Malki's view that settlements will soon make a two state solution “part of nostalgia” and that the imminent alternative is a binational state. Yet it is widely accepted that the majority of settlement blocks will be incorporated into Israel in any settlement. After all, they make up a tiny percentage of West Bank land, less than 2 percent according to some estimates.
It should also not be forgotten that after withdrawing Jewish civilians from Gaza, Israel was met by an upsurge of terror from that region. By fixating on settlements to the detriment of other issues, Oborne gives a free pass to Palestinian rejectionists who see no room for compromise.
It is astonishing that such a blatantly one-sided piece of writing which eschews proper context is allowed to pass for respectable journalism in Britain. Then again, compared to some Guardian columnists, Oborne is a model of tolerance.
Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton
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