The New York Times reported last week on a spat between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett that was noteworthy for what it didn’t report. Some excerpts of relevant context from the Times article:
Simmering tension between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and one of his right-wing political partners boiled into open hostility on Wednesday, threatening to reshape Israel’s governing coalition at a critical juncture of the American-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians.
The prime minister’s office issued a warning on Wednesday morning to Naftali Bennett, the leader of the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party, that if Mr. Bennett did not apologize for his harsh criticism of Mr. Netanyahu’s positions in recent days, he could lose his seat in the cabinet….
Mr. Bennett, 41, had delivered repeated, blistering denunciations over the past few days of a suggestion by the prime minister’s office that some Jews in far-flung settlements might live under Palestinian sovereignty in a future peace deal….
The cracks in the coalition came as Secretary of State John Kerry prepared to present a “framework” laying out core principles for continuing the negotiations, which began last summer.
The conflict escalated over the weekend, when the prime minister’s office floated the notion of Jewish settlers’ becoming minority citizens in a future Palestinian state.
What is significant is that nowhere in the article did the Times bother to point out the well-known reason why Netanayahu floated this notion. Turning to the Israeli daily Haaretz, however, we can learn:
The Pavlovian response by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett over Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to let settlements remain under Palestinian rule in a peace deal should have prompted gales of laughter. Bennett said that to support such a suggestion is to take leave of one’s moral senses.
It’s like a slapstick routine where the straight man, as expected, tricks his partner into swallowing soapsuds. In the end, Netanyahu wanted to prove again that the Palestinians are the ones foiling the chances for peace, but Bennett ruined the show.
That’s not an interpretation. Netanyahu’s office was perfectly explicit about that, as we can learn from another Haaretz article:
On Sunday, Bennett attacked Netanyahu, after the Prime Minister’s Office informed foreign journalists that Netanyahu believed that it would be possible to allow settlers who wanted to remain under Palestinian sovereignty to do so in the wake of a peace agreement….
A day later, officials in Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister’s statement was a trial balloon intended to squeeze a refusal out of the Palestinians and to present them to the world as the ones rejecting peace. However, Bennett’s reaction foiled their plans.
The PMO blamed Bennett for “reckless national endangerment that harms efforts to expose the real face of the Palestinian Authority just to grab headlines.”
But you didn’t hear that the whole suggestion was just a propaganda stunt from America’s “newspaper of record”, which perpetually serves its role of manufacturing consent for U.S. policy; in this case, for the policy of demanding that the Palestinians cease any efforts to turn to the international community to further their cause through application of international law and instead return to negotiations with the Netanyahu government even while Israel continues its occupation and illegal colonization of Palestinian territory.
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