Another Guardian ‘don’t mention the war’ moment

We were informed by Julian Borger writing on Comment is Free on March 7th that the British government has chosen to upgrade the status of the Palestinian representatives in London to that of a diplomatic mission.

William Hague said that Britain had upgraded the status of Palestinian diplomats in the UK, in a largely symbolic move aimed at encouraging progress in peace talks with Israel.”

“British officials said the only real change in the work of Palestinian diplomats will be that they will be given parking spaces by Westminster council, and find it easier to get British visas for their staff.”

So much for the famed Israeli intelligence then: how come we didn’t know until now that the real reason the Palestinians could not come to the negotiating table was because they were too busy looking for a vacant parking meter in Westminster and filling in all those UK immigration forms in quadruplicate?

“This really reflects our acknowledgement of Palestinian progress in achieving administrative goals in building institutions and in progress made in fulfilling the road map,” a British official said.”

Errm… sorry to be a pain and all that, Mr. British official,  but exactly which clauses of the Road Map have the Palestinians made progress in fulfilling?

Clause one of the Road Map reads as follows:

“At the outset of Phase I:

  • Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel.
  • Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, as expressed by President Bush, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israeli institutions end incitement against Palestinians.”

(my emphasis)

Not only have the Palestinians repeatedly refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, not only have they released Hamas terrorists responsible for the murders of Israeli citizens without bothering to put them on trial, not only is there the not so small matter of thousands of rockets and mortars still being fired at Israeli civilians, but their official institutions continue to spew daily incitement against Israel.

In fact at the very moment that Mahmoud Abbas was enjoying British hospitality in London, a youth centre back home near Ramallah announced that it will be running a football tournament named after a suicide bomber. Of course the likelihood of William Hague bringing that subject up over the hors d’oeuvres is about as great as the possibility that the Guardian might see fit to mention such a move on its pages, let alone criticize it.

Once again British soft bigotry reigns supreme. After all, neither the Foreign Office nor the Guardian would look kindly upon the naming of a sports tournament after Mohammed Sidique Khan by a Dewsbury youth centre, so why do they consider such a move acceptable – and indeed unremarkable – in Palestinian Authority controlled areas? And why do they continue to lie, both to themselves and the British public, about ‘progress made in fulfilling the Road Map’?

As for those lauded achievements in ‘ building institutions’, well obviously they do not include freedom of the press or trade unions within the Palestinian Authority, or even such basic things as putting an end to torture, equal rights for women and minorities, holding elections on time or balancing the budget.

It gets worse, however. Not content with distorting the truth by omission, the Guardian’s Diplomatic Editor goes on to faithfully repeat the party line: it’s all about the settlements, innit?

“The “road map”, promoted by the Quartet of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia, is intended as a framework for achieving a settlement, but it has long been stalled over the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.”

In fact, as the ‘Palestine papers’ – recently leaked by the Guardian itself in collaboration with Al Jazeera – show, Palestinian negotiators were able to talk with their Israeli counterparts as recently as late 2008 without the issue of construction in Judea & Samaria preventing them from doing so. Only when a rookie US President brought up the subject did the PA suddenly get struck conveniently dumb and that silence was not cured by a ten month building freeze.

How exactly the British government or any other members of the Quartet (along with the bien pensants at the Guardian) think that any sort of peace agreement is reachable whilst terrorists are still being glorified by Palestinian society in general and with the encouragement of EU and US funded PA institutions is beyond all logic. Until the Quartet decides to take up the challenge of facing up to PA incitement and glorification of terror – and seeing as it holds the purse strings, that should not be too difficult a task – no significant progress can be made in implementing the Road Map or any other agreement.

But for now, all the players of influence choose to circle around the issue of PA incitement and pretend it doesn’t exist. Instead they hand out rewards such as this diplomatic upgrade, accompanied by the usual platitudes, whilst demanding nothing in return from the Palestinian side.

Basil Fawlty would doubtless be proud.

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