Telegraph parrots PA talking points on Jerusalem recognition ‘killing the peace process’

The Telegraph published an article on Dec. 9th by their Middle East correspondent Raf Sanchez on Palestinian reaction to US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  Though Sanchez is typically fairer than most in covering the region, in this piece he follows the narrative path of least resistance, takes Palestinian leaders’ words at face value and virtually ignores alternative views or facts which contradict the story’s underlying assumptions.

The piece (“Trump’s decision on Jerusalem shatters the old Palestinian guard”) begins thusly:

For more than 20 years, Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian’s chief peace negotiator, has chased the dream of a two-state solution and the hope of an independent Palestinian state.

He followed it to the White House under four different US presidents, haggled over it in secret and public negotiations with hard faced Israeli negotiators, and defended it against sceptical Palestinians on the streets of Jericho.

But in the minutes after Donald Trump’s announcement that the US was recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Mr Erekat stood in front of the television cameras and concluded that his dream of two decades was finally dead. 

“Unfortunately, President Trump just destroyed any possibility of two states,” he said in a quivering voice. 

First, the entire premise of the article, and Saeb Erekat’s response, is false. 

As we’ve outlined recently, the US decision to recognise Jerusalem does not negatively impact the peace process.  For starters, the White House statement, which merely acknowledges the reality that Jerusalem is in fact Israel’s capital, makes clear that the US is “not taking a position” on “specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem”. This means that their new policy does not preclude potential Palestinian sovereignty over east Jerusalem. Further, the US embassy, when its built, will almost certainly be located in west Jerusalem.   

Moreover, Sanchez’s glowing portrait of Erekat and his “dreams” obfuscates Erekat’s role as chief negotiator during two Palestinian rejections of Israeli peace offers (in 2001 and 2008), concrete offers of statehood with contiguous territory that included east Jerusalem as their capital.  This vital context is erased.

Sanchez continues:

The US decision on Jerusalem has shattered Mr Erekat and other members of the Palestinian leadership’s old guard, leaving them reeling and uncertain of where to try to lead their people next…A generation of heavyset, elderly men in suits – led by their 82-year-old president Mahmoud Abbas – had for years set the idea of a two-state solution as their north star. 

They ignored calls for violence from the street and rejected plans to promote a South Africa-style international boycott against Israel. They clung to the belief that if they cooperated with the US and stayed at the negotiating table then one day the Americans would pressure Israel into allowing a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

And then, in a speech of just 11 minutes, Donald Trump snatched that belief from them. 

Sanchez’s claim that Abbas, Erekat and others within the PA leadership have “ignored calls for violence from the street”, as we noted recently on these pages, is just not true.  Abbas and his officials have repeatedly glorified Palestinian terrorists, while praising ‘martyrdom’ as the highest Palestinian aspiration.  Abbas also has, over the years, repeatedly encouraged terror, telling Palestinians that violence “in defense of al-Aqsa” is justified.  

And, while the PA may not have actively promoted a “South-African style international boycott of Israel”,  they have, whilst claiming to desire peace and co-existence, continually engaged in state sponsored incitement and antisemitism, as well as an orchestrated campaign of “lawfare” – the use of international law and international bodies to delegitimise and isolate the Jewish state.

Also, notably absent from Sanchez’s report is any real assessment on the political views of Palestinians. His article includes passages which leave the impression that most Palestinians are pro-peace, and frustrated with lack of progress towards two-states, yet never provides any evidence to back it up. 

Typical is this passage in the article:

The lack of any real progress in negotiations during his 12 years in power has left Mr Abbas deeply unpopular. An opinion poll from September found that 67 per cent of Palestinians want him to resign. 

However, reputable polls have also shown that a strong majority of Palestinians not only support violence, but believe the goal of the Palestinian movement “should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea”, while only a minority expressed their belief that the goal should be a two state solution. 

Has Sanchez even considered that Abbas’s unpopularity may stem from his failure to deliver the former goal, not his failure to deliver the latter?  

Sanchez’s unwillingness to push back against the echo chamber on the new US position, including his breathtaking credulousness in the face of Erekat’s maudlin lamentations over the ‘death’ of two states, evokes the astute observation of former AP Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman about media coverage of the region:

If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies…or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims…

The story of the US President’s decision to recognize Jerusalem mandated that it be framed as a “death knell” to the peace process, one that shatters the decades long two-state dreams of Palestinians and their leaders, and that’s exactly what Raf Sanchez delivered.   

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11 replies »

  1. Saeb Erekat never really wanted peace or a Palestinian state, he’s part of the corrupt Arafat gang who made a personal gain (fortune) from the situation. he lives in luxury in his Jericho mansion which was guarded for years by Israel (so his Pal brothers won’t slaughter him and his family) and have cost many millions (just the marble delivered from Italy cost 2-3 million $) and sent his kids to expensive private schools in Switzerland out of Palestinian aid money donated by dumb countries who doesn’t know what the money is used for. he’s among those who know the day of independence is the day Hamas takes over and throws his slaughtered body to the garbage so he always played the crisis card to make sure this day never comes while he’s out crying to the world about Israel’s “atrocities” (all made up in his mind).

    To the people who support the State of Palestine – do you really think this world need that country? a culture of terror and violence, of wife and child beaters, of cry-babies who never bothered to build their future but for decades just blaming everyone else for their misery rather than do something positive for a change and will never be democratic and progressive, but a burden on the entire world, who will fall into a civil war the next day after independence and will not live peacefully with its neighbors as they don’t even understand the meaning of the word. do you really think this Palestine will have any positive contribution to this world? I doubt it.

    • The Mayor of Nazareth believes the proper response is to deny Christians access to Holy places over the Holidays. There is no pretense that one thing even has anything to do with the other.
      There is nothing like the arrogance of Muslim’s protected by liberal ideologies who write their anti Jewish Christian apologetics for the Palsetinian Muslim leaders . Muslim leaders boast they should have full control of Jerusalem and do not even promise to make it accessible fairly to all beliefs. In fact, the Imams have already demanded that once the 67 boundaries are recognized, for Christians and Jews to pray at the Kotel they have to learn to pray in a manner submissive to Islam. This is the Islamist false claim they are the true representatives of Islam and Christianity. Of course liberals don’t find that offensive even if it is the negation of logic, western scientific methods, and democratic principles. Liberals and Muslims are mere ideologues they believe in the Islamic Revolution even if it is an oxymoron.
      I’m sure this mayor who rules over a city that was once principally Christian and had a Christian mayor but since Arafat insured it would fall under sharia law ,doesn’t even believe he is negating the rights of Christians because after all, you can only be a Christian if you are submissive to Islam under their heinous theological system that does not allow for any other belief.
      It is this pretense that communicates to me the Palestinians never negotiated in good faith a two state solution. If they had they would be asking when is the US going to open an embassy in their own state not Israel which they assumed by right of return and leveraging weak minded liberals in the left to believe the Palestinians are the victims of apartheid and not merely their own bad and failed leadership. Hamas, PA, HezbAllah, Iran, Jihadi groups which one represents Palestinians?

  2. Saeb Erekat said that there were thousands dead in the “Jenin Massacre.” Saeb Arekat runs around telling people he can’t recognize a Jewish state, because it would be a betrayal of his “Arab” Canaanite ancestors (no such thing, and his family is from Arabia.)
    Needless to say, the Telegraph and the rest of British delivering Arab war propaganda as straight news is becoming time worn and ineffectual as people learn the facts.
    It is ludicrous that the media stumps for the eastern half of the city as a Palestinian capital, prdetermining the outcome of negotiations, while spinning this phony story.

  3. Erekat has been the arch-non-negotiator-in-chief, turning down every proposal offered over the decades.

    And now he claims “President Trump just destroyed any possibility of two states”????

    If ever it was true of someone it is true of Erekat – “How do we know he’s lying? Because his lips are moving”.

    • Saeb Erekat is the proud possessor of the title of Liar in Chief for the PA, a title not lightly earned. There is fierce competition.

      He refused to continue with negotiations with Israel when leaks were revealed and then it was discovered that leaks were “from his office”.

      Raf Sanchez has identified himself as being worthy of membership of the Obama echo chamber gang, failed creative writers whose only talent lies in confusing fact and fiction when they are charged with dealing with politics

  4. “…led by their 82-year-old president Mahmoud Abbas – had for years set the idea of a two-state solution as their north star. ”

    Is this some sort of joke? Their dream has been to eradicate Israel.

    “They ignored calls for violence from the street and rejected plans to promote a South Africa-style international boycott against Israel. ”
    They called for 3 days of rage (violence), and have been pushing BDS. The only factual parallel to South Africa is the Pal leadership’s unmistakable resemblance to the Afrikaners.

    “They clung to the belief that if they cooperated with the US and stayed at the negotiating table then one day the Americans would pressure Israel into allowing a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

    They were offered a state with “east Jerusalem” as its capital. They turned it down and again unleashed lethal violence. They left the negotiating table and never returned despite Israel’s repeated invitations.

    Sanchez’ story is fiction.