Guardian distorts Obama’s remarks on settlements at Ramallah news conference


A March 22 edition of the Guardian’s ongoing Middle East Live Blog, edited by Matthew Weaver, included the following dispatch on President Obama’s March 21 news conference with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Palestinians had hoped for a gesture of friendship from Obama on his four-hour visit to Ramallah, instead, the president berated their leader Mahmoud Abbas for insisting on a freeze on new settlements as a precondition to re-starting peace talks, calling them merely “an irritant”. 

The text in the highlighted sentence contains a hyperlink which takes you to a March 21 Guardian report by Matthew Kalman reporting from Ramallah, titled ‘Obama wins few friends on flying stop to West Bank‘, which contained the same characterization of Obama’s remarks at the news conference:

Obama berated Abbas for insisting on a freeze on new settlements as a precondition to re-starting peace talks, calling them merely “an irritant”.

So, is that really what Obama said about the settlements at the Ramallah news conference with Abbas?

Hardly.

Here’s the relevant passage, (from a full transcript of the news conference) from Obama’s response to a journalist’s question about the issue of settlements:

Now, one of the challenges I know has been continued settlement activity in the West Bank area.  And I’ve been clear with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli leadership that it has been the United States’ policy, not just for my administration but for all proceeding administrations, that we do not consider continued settlement activity to be constructive, to be appropriate, to be something that can advance the cause of peace.  So I don’t think there’s any confusion in terms of what our position is.

I will say, with respect to Israel, that the politics there are complex and I recognize that that’s not an issue that’s going to be solved immediately.  It’s not going to be solved overnight.

On the other hand, what I shared with President Abbas and I will share with the Palestinian people is that if the expectation is, is that we can only have direct negotiations when everything is settled ahead of time, then there’s no point for negotiations.

So I think it’s important for us to work through this process, even if there are irritants on both sides.  The Israelis have concerns about rockets flying into their cities last night. And it would be easy for them to say, you see, this is why we can’t have peace because we can’t afford to have our kids in beds sleeping and suddenly a rocket comes through the roof.  But my argument is even though both sides may have areas of strong disagreement, may be engaging in activities that the other side considers to be a breach of good faith, we have to push through those things to try to get to an agreement…

The President’s clear point was that “settlements” are indeed an impediment to peace, but that they represents an issue (as with others) which can only be worked out through negotiations – not as a precondition before talks could proceed.

Further, if you want to argue that Obama was calling settlements a mere “irritant”, then, based on his full reply, you could similarly argue that he also characterized rocket attacks as a “mere irritant”.

The lead of the Guardian Middle East Live blog could just as easily have been the following: 

The President referred to thousands of rockets fired indiscriminately at Israeli men, women and children merely as an “irritant”

But, of course, that would be a selective and completely dishonest characterization of what the President said, wouldn’t it? 

20 comments on “Guardian distorts Obama’s remarks on settlements at Ramallah news conference

  1. But my argument is even though both sides may have areas of strong disagreement, may be engaging in activities that the other side considers to be a breach of good faith, we have to push through those things to try to get to an agreement…

    How strange. The Obama uses the phrase ‘a breach of good faith’ to describe a rocket bursting into a building.

    But. Overall, one can understand The Guardian’s ultimate discomfort. The Obama has discarded the extremist irrational radical delusional left wing view of Israel fobbed on him by the likes of Susan Rice and holds views not un-similar to my own.

  2. Alternatively you could say that Obama characterised both the building of new settlements and the ongoing rocket fire into Israel as “breaches of good faith”.

  3. Obama apologized for his speech in Cairo, for thinking that the Palestinian conflict needs to be resolved. He Put the two pioneering nations together in his orgasmic speech to the young Jewish Israelis. I understand a Palestinian was removed for reminding Obama of another American who was killed a decade ago in Palestine. Mind you how many Blacks, or Native Americans would identify with the pioneers except perhaps a few house Negroes. Now that he has apologized for all that – I expect another coalition of the willing is getting ready for Syria f the palestinians says Obama, Hasan and the israelis and perhaps even the Turks – but note that the judicial actions are independent of these state players – perhaps not in Israel and Jordan – but in Turkey etc

    • Don´t forget the palestinian that killed a prominent american, a certain Bob Kennedy.

      Go have your orgasms elsewhere, boy-george.

  4. On a related matter CifWatchers may like to note the findings of the UK Press Complaints Commission on Adam’s complaints concerning Guardian reporting of the proposed 3,000 new homes in an area to the east of Jerusalem. In brief the PCC said “no matters have been raised which show a breach of the code”. You can see a discussion of the Commission’s findings by the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/24/israel-palestine-pcc?INTCMP=SRCH

  5. if you want to argue that Obama was calling settlements a mere “irritant”, then, based on his full reply, you could similarly argue that he also characterized rocket attacks as a “mere irritant”.

    Indeed, this is the tactic usually employed by Cif Witch(Hunt). I was surprised by its absence in this case!!!!

    • Once again, Knight of Hypocrishire, if you don´t like this blog, just clear off. Go whine elsewhere.

      • It’s usual on blogs when responding to a comment or post, to engage with the material in that comment or post. Now, I realize that you are basically a village idiot who chew straw and can’t add 2 and 2, so I don’t want to be unreasonable, but perhaps if such simple tasks are beyond you you would consider recusing yourself??!!!

        • Chill, Knight of Hypocrishire. You don’t engage sh*t. You just whine, complain and accuse. Sooner or later you’ll cry “racist” or some other inane idiocy. Fun to watch.

          • You are anything but fun to watch, except when you get hysterical, make false accusations and then have to apologize. I’m looking forward to the next one.

            • Oh, so scary… We all hope you’ll vanish sooner or later, though meanwhile we can make fun of your hypocritical BS.

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