Is covering the Middle East conflict correctly really that hard? It would seem so.
Fairfax's Middle East correspondent, Ruth Pollard, seriously stuffed up in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald with this:
"He [Naftali Bennett of the far-right Habayit Hayehudi Party] opposes the creation of a Palestinian state, a key platform of most of the major parties, including Mr Netanyahu's Likud, and instead pushes a plan of annexing much of the West Bank." (Far right spells danger for Netanyahu)
Where does Likud stand with regard to a Palestinian state? Its 2008 platform was unequivocal:
"Israel will not allow the establishment of an Arab Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. The Palestinians will be able to manage their lives freely in the framework of an autonomous regime, but not as a sovereign, independent state." (Likud, ynetnews.com, 1/2/08)
Apparently, a puff or two of smoke and the odd mirror have been deployed since then, yet how anyone can claim so categorically, after reading the following Haaretz report on the subject, that the creation of a Palestinian state is "a key platform" of the Likud is a mystery to me:
"Senior Likud officials called Monday for the omission of a reference to the establishment of a Palestinian state from the party's platform. This was meant to be included after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recognized the principle of the two-state solution in his 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech.
"With less than a month to go before the election, Likud and Yisrael-Beiteinu have yet to present the platform of their joint slate, and according to sources in the parties it is not clear when and if a platform will be issued. 'Dividing the land will bring about Israel's destruction,' one senior Likud official said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'We've said that in the past and we say it today. How does this sit with recognizing a Palestinian state,' he said Monday, cautioning against adding such a clause to the platform. Another senior party official said, 'Likud's platform to date has not recognized the establishment of a Palestinian state, and Yisrael-Beiteinu rejects outright the possibility that a Palestinian state could be established alongside Israel' Another Likud source said, 'It's not clear how [Likud stalwarts such as] Reuven Rivlin, Moshe Ya'alon or Zeev Elkin could reconcile with a platform that includes acceptance of a Palestinian state.'
"The lack of an official joint platform was very noticeable during an interview Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, number-three on the joint slate, gave Monday to the Ynet news site. He stated his opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state, reminding the interviewer that the 'two-state' principle has never been part of Likud's platform and hinting that this will not change during the election campaign... According to Yisrael-Beiteinu's platform, the demand to establish a Palestinian state and the 'right of return' are designed to camouflage the real intention, which is to erase the State of Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state.
"Likud sources said Monday the plan is to keep the party's position on the Palestinian issue as vague as possible in the pre-election period." (Likud officials call to omit Netanyahu's two-state declaration from party platform, Barak Ravid & Jonathan Lis, 25/12/12)
A purely rhetorical question: When are ms correspondents and pundits ever going to wake up? What Israeli leaders say or don't say matters not a whit, all that matters is what's going on ON THE GROUND AS WE SPEAK.
Now I wish that that was my only problem with Pollard's report, but it isn't. Sadly, it also contains the following sentence:
"In recent months, Israel has pushed forward with its plan to expand settlement construction in disputed territory beyond the 1967 borders."
I'm sorry, but resorting to Israeli spin - disputed - to describe the ongoing OCCUPATION and colonisation of the West Bank is to connive in that process.