Monday, March 08, 2010


A Mideast Report...signifying nothing

Concurrent with the Vice President’s arrival into Israel is the news that “indirect” talks between the Palestinians and the Israeli’s have been agreed to.

“Israel and the Palestinians agreed Monday to resume indirect peace negotiations mediated by the United States, said President Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell."

Scott Wilson reports why he calls it a resumption:

“Talks broke down most recently after Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip in December 2008, which left more than 1,000 Palestinians dead and was aimed at stopping rockets from being fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel.”

…and in one sentence, manages to touch on two peeves of mine in such reporting.

Maybe it’s just a Washington Post thing and I’m too sensitive but it continually irks me to read about the military response by Israel as if they were the initiator. Mr. Wilson is not alone here – I have previously mocked a similar tone taken by Griff Witte and Glenn Kessler.

Further, such wording seems to imply that Israel is largely to blame for any disruption in a peace process. Again, Mr. Wilson is not alone here – much of the reporting of this takes this tack but let’s remember our history:

December 2008 saw the end of a 6-month Hamas-Israel cease-fire and the subsequent rocket attacks by Hamas from Gaza. The talks between the Palestinians and Israel had already stalled in the waning days of the Bush Administration. Israel was pre-occupied with an upcoming election in the aftermath of Israeli PM Ehud Olmert’s political problems and, as noted, the ongoing Gaza matter. Finally, the talks stalled ostensibly over the issue of settlements and not because Abbas was showing any kind of solidarity with Hamas. Hamas had pilloried Abbas over his talks with Israel so it seems ludicrous to suggest that Gaza and subsequent lack of talks are a cause and effect. (Ludicrous, that is, unless, your knowledge of the Gaza matter begins and ends with the UN’s Goldstone Report – Soccer Dad has been following that sham closely, including an update today.)

I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb when I predict that Mr. Mitchell’s jet setting diplomacy should result in little of substance…I mean, besides an obvious carbon contribution to global warming.

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