(July 6, 2020 / JNS) In the June 30 article “Jericho fears its vision for peace could soon be lost,” The Washington Post airs its latest speculation about what “could” result from an Israeli action. In so doing, the daily newspaper stokes fear about something that will most likely not occur at all or not cause nearly as much damage as the Post alarmingly predicts.
In its latest apparition, the newspaper once again quotes a Palestinian (or simply declares), saying that the Israeli action du jour will foil the chance for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians as if it were a fait accompli. In this article, the Post predictably quotes the widely cited Palestinian negotiator and propagandist Saeb Erekat, who said that the declaration of Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, including his birthplace Jericho, will be “the lowest point of Palestinian-Israeli relations in the past few decades.”
The Washington Post reported that Erekat, now “secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization,” was born in Jericho and “can trace his family’s history in the biblical town back many generations.” To The Post’s credit, the very next day, on July 1, the editors did publish a correction stating that Erekat was not, in fact, born in Jericho, but in Abu Dis. So Erekat’s continuous sympathy crusade for the Palestinian movement is once again rife with non-truths.
The Post also had the temerity to quote another Palestinian, Bassam Abu Sharif, who also claimed a connection to Jericho. Abu Sharif, according to the report, is “a one-time militant known for a string of airplane hijackings in the 1970s.” A “string” sounds like more than a “one-time” occurrence and wouldn’t “terrorist” be a better description of a professional airplane hijacker than “militant”?
In a token nod to the Israeli point of view, the Post quoted Eugene Kontorovich, professor of international law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and director of the Kohelet Policy Forum based in Jerusalem. According to Kontorovich, annexation is “a loaded term” and “is not the case here.”
But the Post failed to explain why Kontorovich made that remark, even though it was central to the controversy. The key point was that the only legally binding law addressing the sovereignty of the West Bank (where Jericho is located) was unanimously approved long ago by the League of Nations—the predecessor of the United Nations. The landmark vote explicitly allocated the West Bank and the other disputed lands to the Jewish people. To this day, the League’s decision remains valid international law.
Therefore, Israel’s claim to any or all of the West Bank is a claim of sovereignty, not annexation. Israel may rightfully take what is theirs.
Why does the Post miss the crux of the Israeli argument—a piece so necessary to understanding the situation—with this monumental omission? What are the motivations here?
For decades, the Post has been proclaiming that actions either by Israel or by the United States about Israel would be the death knell of the peace process. If that were the case, why is the Post still talking about the impending death of the potential for peace even to this day? It’s because they have been wrong each and every time.
When will the Post give up their fear-mongering and prognostication about something that they have been so consistently wrong about? You’d think they would know better—and leave their crystal ball at home.
Dr. Michael Berenhaus is an optometrist, and a contributor to the news and public-policy group Haym Salomon Center.
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