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Friday, November 25, 2011

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Friday, November 25.
1) The option play

There's some interesting reporting in Israel Halts Payments to Palestinian Authority, Adding to Fiscal Woes. First we have:
Another Israeli official said that when the decision was made to withhold payment around Nov. 1, there had been several troubling developments from Israel’s point of view. First, he said, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority said nothing after a rocket from Gaza killed someone in southern Israel. Then Mr. Abbas seemed to praise the abduction of an Israeli soldier five years ago and said he would never recognize a Jewish state. Finally, the Palestinians joined Unesco — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — a move that Israel rejected as another unilateral step toward statehood.

“We wanted to make clear this could not be business as usual,” the official said. “The idea is to influence Palestinian decision-making.”
This is very clear. I would quibble only that the charges against the Palestinian Authority are presented as the view of an Israeli official. All of this information is freely available and could have been reported in the reporter's own words; instead it is presented as an Israeli view. Then we have:
The transfer of the more than $100 million a month is not, in theory, optional. It is mandated by the 1994 portion of the Oslo agreement. The money is made up of customs duties that Israel collects for Palestinian orders arriving here through Israeli ports, value-added taxes on major Palestinian purchases of Israeli goods and excise taxes on Israeli fuel bought by the Palestinians.

But the Israelis argue that by approaching the United Nations and engaging with Hamas, the Palestinian Authority is breaking its end of the Oslo accords, freeing Israel to do the same.
Note how the transfer of funds is presented as being an obligation of Israel's In the previous paragraphs Palestinian actions that violate the spirit if not the word of Oslo are only views of an Israeli official. And again the second paragraph is prefaced with "Israelis argue."

Israeli obligations are defined by Oslo; Palestinian obligations are the opinion of Israeli officials.

2) Just like Judas

Daoud Kuttab writes in Why the Palestinians might reject U.S. aid:
Criticism of the Abbas administration has appeared in social media platforms and newspaper editorials. Palestinian Authority leaders have been accused of being security agents for Israel. Palestinian-Israeli security cooperation has become taboo in Ramallah. Meanwhile, even though Palestinians have provided unprecedented cooperation on security, Israeli provocations continue. The Israelis have not stopped building settlements or expropriating Palestinian lands.
It would be a political misstep to accept funds earmarked for security services while schools and nurseries are not completed. Palestinians would see the aid as analogous to the 30 pieces of silver that were accepted by Judas Iscariot when he delivered Jesus — a position Abbas does not want to be in.
If an American Christian commentator had similarly used the Judas analogy - especially in circumstances involving Jews, would the Washington Post have published it? Aside from Kuttab's inaccuracies - which wouldn't concern most newspapers - the reference seems unusually inflammatory.
For the record, Kuttab is Christian.

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