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June 15, 2021 12:20 pm
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CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Falsely Accuses Israel of ‘Killing the Two-State Solution’

avatar by Gidon Ben-zvi

Opinion

CNN logo. Photo: Flickr.

On June 13, 2021, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-ever serving prime minister, was removed from power when the Knesset approved a new government formed by Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.

In the immediate aftermath of “King” Bibi having been dethroned after 12 consecutive years at the political helm, major media outlets embarked on a campaign of historical revisionism.

Research conducted by HonestReporting shows that out of a total of 600 articles and news segments mentioning Netanyahu and the two-state solution produced in the 12 hours following the confirmation of Israel’s 36th government, over 400 of them claimed that Jerusalem had “opposed,” “stymied,” or, according to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, “killed” the idea of a Jewish state living side by side in peace with a Palestinian one.

This is a blatant falsehood.

While the world’s leading news organization correctly observed that the two-state solution remains elusive, neither the Israeli government’s repeated good-faith efforts to jump-start the peace process, nor the Palestinian leadership’s incessant intransigence were widely reported.

1997: Israel Attempts to Revive the Oslo Accords By Withdrawing From Hebron

Fareed Zakaria asserted on CNN that during Netanyahu’s 15 years as premier, he took “a much harder line position, essentially killing the two-state solution.”

In fact, it was during Netanyahu’s first premiership (1996-1999) that Israel signed the Hebron Protocol, in an attempt to salvage the Oslo Accords, which had effectively collapsed following waves of Palestinian terrorism.

The 1997 Hebron agreement resulted in the redeployment of Israeli military forces from the ancient city that contains the Cave of Machpelah, where the Bible states that Judaism’s patriarchs and matriarchs are buried. The land upon which the site is located was purchased by none other than Abraham, the world’s first Jew.

1998: Israel Promises to Relinquish Land, Palestinian Authority Fails to Fight Terror

After the Palestinian Authority (PA) halted peace talks over Israel’s prospective establishment of a new Jewish community in Jerusalem, the Clinton administration in 1998 brokered the Wye River Memorandum. Signed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel agreed to relinquish 10 percent of its land, and cede it to Palestinian control. In return, then-PA chairman Yasser Arafat committed to taking measures to prevent acts of terrorism against the Jewish state.

Despite much optimism, the agreement proved illusory. Arafat failed to honor his promises, and instead went so far as to declare his intention to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood without making peace with Israel.

2009: Bar-Ilan Speech Accepts Idea of Palestinian State

On June 14, 2009, Netanyahu delivered a speech at Bar-Ilan University, during which he — for the first time — explicitly expressed support for the creation of a Palestinian state, albeit on the condition that it would be demilitarized and that the Palestinian leadership would agree to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. The PA would also have to drop its demand for millions of “refugees” to “return” to Israel, a scenario that would effectively end Jewish self-determination. Meanwhile, Israel would retain defensible borders and sovereignty over a unified Jerusalem.

But although the White House called Netanyahu’s address an “important step forward,” the Palestinian Authority denounced the speech as “sabotaging” the peace process.

2009: Israel Freezes All West Bank Construction

In November 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that Israel would impose a 10-month freeze on West Bank construction. Israel’s premier was quoted as saying:

This is not an easy step. We are taking it … in a bid to encourage the resumption of the peace process in order to reach peace with our Palestinian neighbors. … I hope that the Palestinians and the Arab world will be wise enough to take advantage of this opportunity in order to advance on the path of peace.”

The Palestinian Authority rejected this good-will gesture. Only nine months after the construction moratorium was implemented, were negotiations between Israel and the PA relaunched; this, after a nearly two-year stalemate. The talks essentially broke down when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas demanded that the freeze on Israeli building in the disputed West Bank be extended.

2011: Israel Willing to Make ‘Painful Compromises’

On May 24, 2011, Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered a speech to a joint session of the US Congress, during which he stressed:

I’m willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel it’s my responsibility to lead my people to peace. Now, this is not easy for me. It’s not easy … because I recognize that in a genuine peace, we’ll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland. And you have to understand this: In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers.

2014: Peace Talks Yes. Hamas No.

In April 2014, PA President Abbas moved to end his ruling Fatah faction’s bitter feud with Hamas.

“I call on President Abbas: Tear up your pact with Hamas,” Netanyahu said in response — during an interview with CNN, mind you.

Netanyahu’s comments came after the Abbas-led PA that controls the West Bank declared its intention to form a unity government with Hamas, the US-designated terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip. Hamas is committed to the Jewish state’s destruction. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were meant to have been revived prior to Abbas’ decision to partner with Hamas, which to this date still has not come to fruition.

2019: PA Boycotts ‘Peace to Prosperity’ Workshop 

The prospective rebooting of the peace process again took center stage in 2019, with the focus on jump-starting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, geared towards achieving a two-state solution to end the conflict. The US-led “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop in Bahrain brought together Arab dignitaries as well as Israelis. The two-day event included the unveiling of a generous White House economic proposal for the Palestinians — to the tune of tens of billions of dollars — that drew nothing but condemnation from Ramallah.

This latest example of Palestinian rejectionism was later overshadowed by the revelation that the Palestinian Authority, which had boycotted the Manama gathering, targeted — and in some cases tortured — Palestinians who did participate.

2020: Annexation Suspended By Israel; Pay-For-Slay Rebooted By Palestinian Authority

In August 2020, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he was abandoning the idea of applying Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank that Palestinians regarded as crucial to the implementation of a two-state solution. The plan was officially suspended as part of the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which were also viewed as an opportunity for Ramallah to re-engage Jerusalem on the diplomatic front.

Instead, the PA lashed out at the prospect of Israel establishing ties with Gulf Arab states. Around the same time, it came to light that PA President Abbas had sought to reestablish a bank in order to circumvent efforts by Israel and the international community to end Ramallah’s payments to terrorist prisoners and their families.

Exposing CNN’s State of Denial

CNN and other influential media outlets have opted to exclude crucial details about the on-again, off-again peace talks between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority. But beyond this sin of omission, is the sin of commission: depicting the Jewish state as the primary obstacle to a two-state solution.

Meanwhile, the PA’s rejection of repeated Israeli attempts to revive peace talks and non-stop incitement to violence have led to countless rounds of war, as well as the prolonged suffering of the Palestinian people.

As such, when commenting about a complex topic like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Fareed Zakaria would be well-advised to provide his sizeable viewership with a more accurate picture of the situation. Defaulting to the “Blame Israel” narrative does a great disservice to those who watch CNN with a view to being truthfully informed.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting — a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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