Goodwill hunting

Palestinian leadership is determined to cut off any budding sign of coexistence between our two peoples.

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October 26, 2016 22:31
3 minute read.
SOME OF THE 500 Israelis and Palestinians who met in Tel Aviv on Friday for a ‘public negotiating co

SOME OF THE 500 Israelis and Palestinians who met in Tel Aviv on Friday for a ‘public negotiating congress’ on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Underlying the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing performance at the UNESCO theater of the absurd is another, deeper aspect of how the Palestinian leadership truly feels about relations with Israel: its determined effort to cut off any budding sign of coexistence between our two peoples.

Consider the PA’s arrest of four Palestinians for the crime of making a goodwill visit to a settlement during Succot.

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The four were making a neighborly holiday call at the succa of Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi in Gush Etzion, as is customary during the festival. They were arrested by PA security and held for four days until a public clamor won their release.

They were held, according to a PA official, because “any Palestinian cooperation with settlers is viewed as violating the law, as he cooperates with the enemy.”

A holiday visit to a neighbor is a violation of Palestinian law. Revivi was the first to call for the PA to release his guests. “It is absurd that having coffee with Jews is considered a crime by the Palestinian Authority,” he told the media. “Initiatives that seek to foster cooperation and peace between people should be encouraged, not silenced. It’s time the Palestinian Authority asks itself whether it would prefer to fan the flames of conflict instead of working to bring people together.”

Not willing to let the incident pass, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the occasion to lash out at certain rights groups that criticized Israel before the United Nations Human Rights Council for not condemning the detention of the Palestinian visitors.

“Where is the outrage of human rights organizations? There is none. To their great shame, they are silent,” Netanyahu wrote on Facebook. “I call on the international community to work to help free these innocent Palestinians whose imprisonment is yet another proof of the Palestinian refusal to make peace.”



Yet another proof of at least the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to make peace is its treatment of an interview with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in the popular Palestinian daily Al-Quds on Monday. The PA’s puppet guardian of free speech, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, attacked the interview as constituting a “clear violation” of the boycott on Israel.

What Liberman said did not matter to those who would deny the Palestinian public the chance to read the first-ever interview with this high Israeli official. He expressed support for the two-state solution and accused PA President Mahmoud Abbas of avoiding making the tough decisions that might lead to peace. In the face of ongoing, if sporadic, rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist enclave known as the Gaza Strip, Liberman offered to promote the economic rehabilitation of the Strip once Hamas abandoned rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and digging attack tunnels.

It is praiseworthy that the editors of Al-Quds stood up to PA pressure not to publish the interview, as reported on Israel Radio. For its part, the journalists syndicate condemned the interview as “normalization” with Israel and accused Liberman of exploiting “national Palestinian media as a platform to deliver his threat and warnings to the Palestinian people.” The syndicate went even lower, insinuating that the paper’s editors were on the take.

“It is our right to wonder if personal benefit was not given over in return to those who coordinated and carried out the interview far from the professional and national history of this newspaper,” the group said.

According to Israel Radio, the unnamed Palestinian interviewer is a veteran reporter who had previously interviewed Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. The deputy editor of Al-Quds, Amjad al-Ormi, told the radio that “those who criticized the interview” – declining to name names – “just do not understand how journalism works.

“Journalism, in general, has its essential importance as an observer of the executive and legislative authorities in any society,” Ormi told the Arabic-language Israeli radio station A-Shams on Tuesday.

“On the other hand,” he added, “the media’s mission is also to inform readers or viewers of the reality of the situation and to leave the judgment up to them, and from another angle to put the true reality in the hands of political decision-makers.”

Despite the courageous efforts of Al-Quds, true reality continues to evade the Palestinian leadership. Reality is a two-way street. If Israeli television viewers have become accustomed to interviews with Abbas, surely the Palestinian public deserves to be exposed to Liberman’s thoughts.

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