John B. Judis of The New Republic Joins the Israel-Bashers
Later in his article, Judis repeats the outrageous lie that I referred to earlier, that Sol Stern thoroughly exposed. Judis writes:
Still, the negotiations that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas conducted from 2006 to 2008 managed to build upon the foundations that were established at Camp David and Taba in the last month of the Clinton administration, producing a basic set of proposals for a negotiated settlement. The deal would be based on the 1967 borders, the dismantling of the outposts, land swaps for Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian control of East Jerusalem, and the virtual abandonment of the Palestinian right to return.
What Stern showed in his reporting is that Abbas took the map with the proposals of Olmert, promising to return the next day after his aides studied the map. Olmert never heard one word from Abbas again! Olmert told Stern in his interview with the then premier that he believed the sticking point was “the right of return,” which he and any Israel premier would never accept, since they emphasized it meant in reality the end of a Jewish state of any kind.
Of course, once Netanyahu became prime minister, all left-leaning commentators conveniently blamed him for everything, forgetting entirely that under Olmert and others before him, the Palestinian representatives continually rejected any meaningful offer that Israel made for a negotiated settlement and a two-state solution. Here is what Judis writes, with my comments inserted in bold:
But the Netanyahu government, which took office in March 2009, refused from the beginning to build on these negotiations.[The key is what “build” means. What Judis implies is that Netanyahu accept on blind faith all the concessions made by Olmert, and then get even more, without the Palestinians giving up “the right of return.”] Netanyahu took three months even to utter the phrase “Palestinian state,” and leaders of his Likud party, and members of his coalition, remain opposed to a Palestinian state. He insisted that negotiations start from scratch, refusing to agree even to the 1967 boundaries as a starting point. The Obama administration asked him to accept a freeze on settlement construction as a good faith gesture to Abbas and the Palestinians. He initially refused, and then acceded to a loophole-ridden temporary ten month freeze that his government proceeded to violate.[What Judis does not tell readers is that the Palestinians, despite the freeze, refused to negotiate for nine months of the ten month freeze. When the period came to an end, they demanded another extension of the freeze.] And after the moratorium expired, Netanyahu has gone on a construction binge in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while concocting new conditions for a Palestinian state, including an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley.[A military buffer on the Jordan River has been the existing position of all Israeli governments, and is supported by Labor as well as Kadima.]
Judis continues throughout his article to make other major errors. Turning again to settlements, Judis writes that Abbas made a “reasonable demand” when he asked Netanyahu to keep a freeze on settlements as a precondition for negotiations. His key sentence: “Increasing settlement construction during negotiations for a two-state solution is the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a fire that you have promised to put out.” Again, Judis is wrong. Israel was not increasing settlements, but building within the settlements that were in the very Olmert map that Judis accuses Netanyahu of abandoning.