Paul Harris misleads on Israel’s commitment to freeze settlements under 2002 ‘Roadmap’

Paul Harris’s Dec. 1 Guardian piece, ‘Clinton and Hague attack Israel decision to build new settlements‘, reported on Netanyahu’s decision to approve the planning process for construction of 3,000 homes on land East of Jerusalem.

Harris, in an effort to contextualize Israeli plans to proceed with new construction, included the following claim, near the end of his report:

“Israel agreed to freeze settlement construction under the Roadmap For Peace plan in 2002. But it has failed to comply with that commitment despite repeated and widespread international condemnation.”

Harris’s claim is, at best, highly misleading.

Originally, Israel, under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, specifically rejected the elements of the Road Map (proposed by President Bush in 2002) which required Israel to halt settlement construction – a fact widely reported in the media at the time.

However, even when Israel announced, later than month, that they accepted, in principle, the goals of road map, they added a list of reservations. One of these reservations stipulated that, while they would “discuss” the issue of a settlement freeze and removing illegal outposts, any such Israeli concessions would be contingent upon the Palestinians combating terror, putting an end to incitement and educating their people for peace.  

Specifically, regarding the “settlement freeze”, the Israelis also explicitly asserted their continued right to settlement development within the existing communities - a partial freeze measure, again, only to commence when the Palestinians began fighting terror and working to end incitement.  

In 2004 the 2nd Intifada was still raging, and there was indication that the Palestinian requirement was being fulfilled.

So, the settlement freeze was part of a larger ‘road map’, implemented by a U.S. President no longer in office, was only partial to begin with and was contingent upon reciprocal Palestinian behavior in honoring their commitment to end terror – a relevant factor given that the Intifada didn’t end until February, 2005.

It’s also odd of Harris to cite a peace proposal from 2002, the terms of which were, at best, unclear, in light of President Obama’s more recent request, in 2009, which Netanyahu agreed to, for a 10 month freeze in construction to advance the peace process.

So, Harris’s claim, that Israel agreed to the freeze, and that they failed to comply with it, is, at best, extremely misleading.

One final note: A Sky News report published on Dec. 1, more than an hour before Harris’s piece was originally published at the Guardian, includes some of the same exact language about Israel’s alleged failure to abide by an agreement to freeze construction in 2002:

Sky News, 17:05, Saturday December 1, 2012:

“Israel agreed to freeze settlement construction under the Roadmap for Peace plan in 2002 but has failed to comply with that commitment.”

Paul Harris at the Guardian, 18.28, Saturday 1 December 2012:

Israel agreed to freeze settlement construction under the Roadmap For Peace plan in 2002. But it has failed to comply with that commitment…

Is it a coincidence that both Harris and the (uncredited) Sky News report used the precise same 22 words in a row in similar stories filed within an hour and  half of one another?

Perhaps. 

What Harriet Sherwood won’t report: Journalist arrested by PA for criticizing Abbas on Facebook (Updated)

H/T Jeremy

It’s impossible to read the following story, as reported by Sky News, without recalling the Guardian’s advocacy on behalf of Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist Khader Adnan, whose administrative detention by Israeli authorities made him a cause celeb among the anti-Israel ‘journavist’ community.

The Guardian published five separate sympathetic pieces about Adnan (including a risible CiF essay by his wife who characterized the spokesperson for a group responsible for terror attacks which murdered hundreds of Israelis as “selfless”) who they comically referred to as a Palestinian “baker”.

Likely never to grace the pages of the Guardian, nor interest their Israel correspondent Harriet Sherwood, is the story of two Palestinian journalists arrested by the PA for criticizing Palestinian leadership.

Per Sky News:

Tarek Khamis, who works for a West Bank news agency, was detained by Palestinian security forces in Ramallah after he used the social networking site to condemn the arrest of another local journalist and blogger.

Esmat Abdel Khalik is being held in solitary confinement after she accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of being a “traitor” on her Facebook page.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority said Ms Abdel Khalik was being held for “extending her tongue” against the elected Palestinian leadership.

In a sign of a deliberate crackdown against local reporters, a third Palestinian journalist was arrested last week after writing an article alleging corruption in the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France.

Youssef al Sahyeb has been charged with slander and defamation after a complaint lodged by the Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki. The reporter was released on $7000 (£4,400) bail after protests by fellow journalists in the West Bank.

The Arabic Network for Human Rightshas accused the Palestinian Authority of “assaulting the freedom of expression in the Palestinian territories”.

“Journalists are entitled to express their opinions without fear of being imprisoned and harassed,” the organisation said in a statement.

The Palestinian Authority has denied claims that it has set up a special unit to monitor blogs and social network postings.

Press freedom is meant to be protected under Palestinian law but the legislation allows for journalists to be prosecuted for activities which threaten “Palestinian unity or values”.

If you go to the Palestinian Territories page of the Guardian there’s no report on this flagrant assault on freedom of the press in PA.

Do I even have to ask what kind of coverage the Guardian would provide if Israel arrested Ha’aretz (or +972) journalists for criticizing Prime Minister Netanyahu?

Of course, such a scenario is inconceivable, as journalists here routinely engage in the most scurrilous critiques of Israeli leaders with complete impunity.  

Moreover, those on the left who passionately advocate for the creation of a Palestinian state strangely never seem bothered by such stories – political phenomena in the PA which demonstrates their decidedly illiberal political culture.

Can any true progressive sincerely argue at this point that the new nation of “Palestine” will be even marginally democratic, pluralistic, or tolerant?

UPDATE, April 4. Per Challah Hu Akbar

On Thursday, Abdel Khalik’s detention was extended for 15 days and she was put into solitary confinement. Ma’an News Agency now reports that, according to a member of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Khaleq was transferred, on Tuesday, to a hospital after her health deteriorated.

Another interesting twist in the Guardian phone hacking scandal

Image courtesy of Guido Fawkes

Thankfully, the UK Media is finally beginning to report on the Guardian’s hypocrisy in the context of their sanctimonious reporting on the phone hacking scandal – particularly regarding the revelation which we reported on Aug. 4 that Guardian’s Assistant Editor, David Leigh, who was reporting on the News of the World scandal through late July, had himself engaged in the possibly illegal act of phone hacking.

As such, the following report raises more questions about the paper’s ethical standards.

Sky News and Bloomberg have recently reported that a Scotland Yard detective was arrested for allegedly leaking information about the hacking inquiry to The Guardian. Specifically, the detective was arrested on suspicion of misconduct relating to the “unauthorised disclosure of information”.

Indeed, many have been asking for some time how the Guardian was able to scoop the rest of the British media on the hacking scandal – and suspected such an “unauthorised source”.

Regarding the arrest, a Guardian spokesman said:

“We note the arrest of a Scotland Yard detective on suspicion of misconduct in a public office relating to unauthorised disclosure of information…On the broader point raised by the arrest, journalists would no doubt be concerned if conversations between off-the-record sources and reporters came routinely to be regarded as criminal activity…In common with all news organisations we have no comment to make on the sources of our journalism.”

So, unpacking the Guardian’s statement:

journalists would no doubt be concerned if conversations between off-the-record sources and reporters came routinely to be regarded as criminal activity.

Note the passive language.

The Guardian management wouldn’t be concerned but, rather, “journalists” would be concerned.

And, even that is parsed so that “reporters” would only be concerned if such behavior was “regarded” as “criminal”.

Further, such “journalists” would only be concerned if their news gathering techniques were “routinely” “regarded” as “criminal”.

The ethical wiggle room in their official statement is just the kind of legalese-inspired doublespeak that they would never let an object of one of their righteous investigations get away with.

What is clear, however, is that, at the very least, Assistant Editor David Leigh has engaged in phone hacking which may well have been criminal, and additional Guardian journalists have been scooping other papers on the phone hacking scandal by an exclusive source who was likely just arrested on the “unauthorized release” of such information to the Guardian.

As James Delingpole wrote, in his blog for the Telegraph, regarding what he characterized as the Guardian’s “sanctimony”, “shrillness”, and “foaming moral outrage” over the Rupert Murdoch phone hacking scandal:

The liberal-Left has many vices. But surely the most noisome one of all (in a crowded field) is its rank hypocrisy. If you’re going to take the moral high ground – as Lefties will insist on doing at every opportunity – the very least you owe the world in return if you have a shred of compunction, decency or intellectual consistency is to demonstrate more integrity than those you are impugning. And if you can’t do that, then bloody well shut up. 

The Guardian: Decency? Intellectual consistency?

If this is the standard, then we can certainly expect the world’s leading liberal voice not to “bloody well shut up.”