‘Comment is Free’ claim on Bibi’s ‘opposition’ to Syria peace begins to unravel

Yesterday we critiqued an essay at ‘Comment is Free’ (‘In the Middle East, the prize of peace is now there for the taking‘, Oct. 17which somehow managed to assign at least partial blame for the continuing wars and violence in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere in the region to Israel and its supporters.

cifWhilst we spent most of our response refuting the broad narrative of the ‘CiF’ commentary – jointly written by three former UN officials, including Miguel d’Escoto Brockmannthe Ahmadinejad-supporting Marxist who served as Daniel Ortega’s foreign minister – there was a specific claim about Netanyahu’s alleged opposition to peace in Syria which appears to be totally erroneous.

Here are the relevant passages:

There are signs that the situation is changing. First, the British and then the American people and their representatives rejected a new war in Syria. Russia, the US and Syria reached an agreement over Syria’s chemical weapons. US president Barack Obama is making moves towards honest negotiations with Iran, and the EU’s foreign policy chief and Iran’s foreign minister judged talks just concluded in Geneva as “substantive and forward-looking”.
All these developments should be pursued with the utmost energy. The planned second Geneva conference on Syria must include all internal and external parties to the conflict if it is to constitute an important step towards finding a solution to the tragedy of that war-torn country.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his supporters are staunchly opposed to these moves towards peace.

So, there are two issues raised by the authors regarding Syria: the chemical weapons deal, and the upcoming peace conference in Geneva.

First, Bibi’s response to the Syrian chemical weapons deal was certainly cautious, but there is nothing to suggest he ever opposed it. Indeed, most media outlets reported that the prime minister gave his cautious support to the deal.  Even the Guardian reported at the time that Netanyahu said that the “deal between the US and Russia over Syria’s chemical weapons must be judged on whether it achieves ‘complete destruction’ of the arsenal.”  

So, while it would be accurate to characterize Bibi’s response as cautious or guarded – or even as representing ‘qualified’ support – it is erroneous to suggest, per the ‘CiF’ contributors, that he “opposed” the deal.

Second, regarding the proposed Geneva Peace Conference (tentatively scheduled for late Nov.), upon searching for a source to back of the authors’ claim we were unable to find any report suggesting that Netanyahu is “staunchly opposed” to the proposed Syria peace conference, or that he’s taken a clear position on it either way.  

In light of the dearth of information online regarding his position on the Geneva conference, we contacted the Prime Minister’s office directly to inquire about their official position, and were informed by a spokesperson that they have not taken an official position on the matter.

It appears as if the strong suggestion at ‘Comment is Free’ that Bibi opposes Syria peace talks is completely without merit.

Finally, the apparent inaccuracy of these two particular claims likely don’t represent merely an honest mistake by Messrs. DEscoto Brockmann, Halliday, and Von Sponeck but, more likely, an intentional obfuscation which serves to advance the desired narrative of a war-mongering Israeli state and it’s equally belligerent Zionist supporters in the diaspora.

As we’ve demonstrated previously when critiquing the paper’s Middle East “analyses”, when facts clash with the desired Guardian narrative on Israel, the latter wins out over the former nearly every time.

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