Anatomy of Misinformation: Abbas's Referendum

There is no mention whatsoever of a "two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." The document makes no mention of "eastern Jerusalem". The document refers, instead, to all of Jerusalem.

David Bedein,

David Bedein
David Bedein
credit David Michael Cohen
Now, for an update on a major case of misinformation: Mahmoud Abbas's referendum.

The leading news item on the JTA and AP wires of June 6th, 2006, misreported that "Mahmoud Abbas announced he would call for a Palestinian referendum on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Furthermore, the JTA news item also reports that the referendum "calls for a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem, the areas Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War."

Meanwhile, the Voice of Israel English newswire interviewed a left-wing professor, Menachem Klein, also on June 6th, who declared that the document for the referendum carries an "implicit recognition of Israel."

However, the text of the referendum proposed by Abbas, based on the so-called "Document of the Prisoners" (Arab terrorists convicted of first-degree murder), makes no such statements. That "prisoners document" is readily available in English from official and unofficial Palestinian sources (see http://www.jmcc.org/documents/prisoners.htm).

In that document, there is no mention whatsoever of a "two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." The document makes no mention of "eastern Jerusalem". The document refers, instead, to all of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the document for Abbas's referendum predicates the establishment of a Palestinian state on "all territories occupied in 1967" on the "right of return for the refugees". In other words, the document for Abbas's referendum resorts to the traditional PLO demand for all lands settled by Israel after 1948.

Instead of premising the document for Abbas's referendum on recognition of Israel and a contiguous Palestinian state, the document is only "based on the United Nations Charter and the international law and international legitimacy".

All this would be only a matter of sloppy media coverage, except for the fact that the White House press spokesman, Mr. Tony Snow, made an official statement in which he swallows the misrepresentation of Abbas's referendum, hook, line and sinker. His response to the question if he had anything to say on the referendum that Abbas is proposing to hold was:
Well, once again, Prime Minister Abbas has demonstrated that he's somebody who wants to work toward a two-state solution. And that was one of the things, as you know, that came up in the conversation with Prime Minister Olmert earlier with the president. Prime Minister Olmert said that he was going to be holding talks at some point with the prime minister, and we're just going to have to wait and see what happens -- whether he's able to have a referendum and what happens. But I think it's important for Palestinians to wrestle with the issue of whether they want to have a two state solution.
At least Mr. Snow should know the above context of what the real story is with Abbas's "referendum".



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