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January 31, 2020 10:36 am

What Do Critics Think Palestinian Leaders Should Do to Advance Peace?

avatar by Adam Levick


Palestinian Authority leader Mahmud Abbas speaks during a meeting with journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 3, 2019. Photo: Flash90.

We previously noted that an Independent editorial (paywall) on Trump’s new peace plan (“Peace talks are the only way to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Jan. 30) was surprisingly balanced — at least by their standards. Though it was very critical of the offer, it also opined that, whilst Mahmoud Abbas is “certainly right to criticise it,” “he should still engage with it.”

“The least the Palestinians could do,” the editorial continued, “is to sit down with the Americans, or the Israelis, or both …. or with the Jordanians and others intimately affected by the so-called deal and discuss the proposals step by step, clause by clause.”

The editorial concluded by stressing that “the talking has to go on, even if sometimes it seems futile and even demeaning to do so; because violence has served the peoples of the region even less well.”

The Guardian’s editorial (“The Guardian view on Trump’s ‘peace plan’: a con, not a deal,” Jan. 29), by contrast, was completely one-sided. Though most of it is devoted to attacking Trump, Netanyahu, and the plan, whilst alleging that the deal denies Palestinians their rights, it says nothing about what Palestinian leaders should do now to advance peace, other than to complain that it’s “absurd” to expect them to accept the deal, which, they claim, would give them a state “in name alone.”

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The Guardian’s silence in the op-ed on the question of what Palestinian leaders can do to advance peace is characteristic of their coverage of the conflict since as long as we’ve been monitoring them: reporting and commentary that myopically and obsessively focuses on every Israeli sin, real and (mostly) imagined, whilst ignoring Palestinian behavior. Such questions are rarely if ever asked, likely because, in order to pose such queries, you first must impute moral agency to Palestinians — a principle inherently at odds with the paper’s rigid ideological orientation, one which views them as merely victims.

So, we challenge The Guardian editors to pen an editorial which addresses these questions:

Assuming editors agree that extremism, antisemitism, incitement to violence, and terror are major impediments to peace, what, in their view, can PA leaders do now to foster a society that rejects these destructive vices, and, instead, promotes the values of  peace and tolerance?

Assuming editors agree that a future Palestinian state will only be successful if it’s democratic, progressive, economically liberal, and guarantees its citizens basic human rights, what can PA leaders do now to promote good governance, reform their institutions, and begin to create the political and economic infrastructure that will ensure that Palestine is a free state and decrease the chances that it will become a failed state?

Finally, though editors (as with Palestinian leaders) might have some valid reasons to oppose the specific Trump plan, what, in their view, can Palestinian leaders do now to move the process forward? Do they agree that, at the bare minimum, PA leaders should announce a willingness to enter into negotiations with Israel (and resume contact with the US) immediately, with no pre-conditions, or, even make a counter-proposal?

If Guardian editors are not, as we argue, guilty of the bigotry of low expectations, and do impute moral agency to Palestinians, then we’d love it if they attempted to prove us wrong by publishing an editorial on what Palestinian leaders can do promote peace in the Middle East.

Adam Levick covers the British media for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

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