Financial Times Oslo obituary omits Palestinian rejection of peace offers

Contrary to the Financial Times claim, it was Palestinian leaders who, acting on their own free will, independent of what Netanayhu or Begin did or didn't do, "denied Palestinians a country to call their own" - a simple historical fact that's continually obfuscated in British media reports about the conflict.

Financial Times contextualises their Jan. 4th review of two recent books (Preventing Palestine, by Seth Anziska, and Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu, by Anshel Pfeffer) by maintaining that Netanayhu and Menachem Begin are “two rightwingers who prevented a viable Palestinian state”.

Here are relevant passages from the review:

Netanyahu’s is a political career seemingly launched with one goal: preventing a viable Palestinian state. 

Netanyahu may disagree but his most visible impact on modern Israel is that 25 years after Oslo was signed, no Palestinian state has taken form.

In Anziska’s deeply researched book, the idea of a negotiated path to a viable Palestinian state was first betrayed at Camp David in the late 1970s, when US president Jimmy Carter, Menachem Begin, Israel’s rightwing prime minister, and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat brokered the accord that brought a lasting peace between Egypt and Israel. That deal, he argues, not only delayed the question of Palestinian statehood but also allowed Begin to reshape what it might one day eventually mean. With access to declassified memos and documents scattered around the world by a succession of shattered peace processes, he pieces together a single moment in which the seeds for a diminished Palestinian state were laid. Autonomy not independence. Lines on a map not true borders

Pfeffer paints a portrait of Netanyahu as he evolves, at turns petulant, defiant, rejected, resurgent and, today, hounded by the police for his alleged corruption. Similarly with Israel, first wary and hungry for approval and acceptance and now a wealthy, proud and powerful Jewish state that has denied Palestinians a country to call their own.

In the FT’s telling, the history of the region since the 1970s is primarily defined by Israel’s refusal to allow the creation of a Palestinian state.  Yet, nowhere does the more than 1,000 word review so much as note the fact that Israel, on multiple occasions, offered Palestinians a state – offers rejected by Palestinian leaders.  Ehud Barak’s offers in 2000 and 2001, and Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008, which would have created, for the first time ever, a sovereign and contiguous Palestinian state in well over 90% of the West Bank (with east Jerusalem as their capital), are literally erased from history by the FT.

olmert offer
Ehud Olmert’s Peace Plan, rejected by Mahmoud Abbas, 2008


Such omissions, regarding the role played in the ongoing conflict by the actions and decisions of Palestinians and their leaders, represent a major component of the British media’s biased coverage of the region. 

Former Associated Press (AP) Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman summed it up well:

If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, 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 of the party that matters.

Contrary to the Financial Times claim, it was Palestinian leaders who, of their own free will, independent of what Israeli leaders did or didn’t do, made decisions whichdenied Palestinians a country to call their own” – an indisputable historical fact that’s continually obfuscated in  the British media.

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