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Hamas: No Recognition of Israel By: HonestReporting.com
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, June 30, 2006

HonestReporting previously analyzed the contents of the so-called "Prisoners' Document" that many in the media portrayed as a Palestinian breakthrough for peace. At same time as the IDF launches operations in Gaza to secure the release of its kidnapped soldier, the Hamas and Fatah have announced an agreement between the Palestinian factions on the contents of the document.

Despite the claims of some Palestinian spokespeople, however, the Hamas has still not agreed to the most basic demand of the international community - recognition of Israel's right to exist.  In contrast to its initial reaction to the Prisoner's Document, the American media appears, this time, to have taken a more muted and realistic approach.

The LA Times called the Palestinian move:

more of an effort to present a symbolic united front at a time of crisis than to genuinely alter the hard-line stance that has led to the Hamas-dominated government's diplomatic and economic isolation. The Islamist Hamas movement emphasized that it was still not willing to acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

This skepticism was echoed by the Toronto Star:

Whether the document, in calling for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, implies recognition of Israel remains open to interpretation. And whether the fragmented Hamas movement, whose exiled leadership in Damascus opposes any such compromise, is likely to honour the paper is even more questionable.

While the Baltimore Sun simply stated that "there was confusion yesterday over Hamas' position. Hamas officials denied that they had recognized Israel", in a welcome move, it was the BBC that broadcast irrefutable proof of the Hamas line:

Palestinian minister Abdel Rahman Zeidan told the BBC the Hamas-Fatah document did not in any way recognize the state of Israel.

"There is no agreement between the Palestinians on specifically this phrase. You will not find one word in the document clearly stating the recognition of Israel as a state. Nobody has agreed to this. This was not on the table. This was not in the dialogue," he said.

The NY Times also acknowledged the flawed logic of claims that the Palestinian agreement represents Hamas recognition of Israel:

But Salah al-Bardawil, a Hamas legislator, told Reuters, "We said we accept a state in 1967 - but we did not say we accept two states."

Mr. Masri said in an interview: "They do exist. It's tangible, they exist, we recognize the fact they exist. What we don't recognize is the legitimacy of the occupation."

By the last phrase, Hamas normally means the occupation of historic Palestine by an Israeli state of any kind; the Hamas charter explicitly says that Palestine is Islamic waqf - land given by God to Muslims, who cannot cede it or sell it.

HonestReporting commends those media outlets that have resisted the temptation to gloss over the inherent obstacles to peace that exist in the Palestinian agreement as has happened in much of the British press (see HonestReporting UK). We call on subscribers to be vigilant in the face attempts to portray the Prisoners' Document as a Hamas recognition of Israel's right to exist.


As the IDF continues operations in the Gaza Strip to bring about the release of its kidnapped soldier, the latest developments in this fluid situation can be found on our Backspin blog. The thoughts of HonestReporting are with Cpl Gilad Shalit and with teenager Eliyahu Asheri, who has also been abducted by Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank.



The BBC has finally released its official response to the recent independent inquiry into the organization's Mideast coverage. While recognizing the flaws in the inquiry's conclusions, HonestReporting was pleased to note the recommendation "that the BBC should get the language right. We think they should call terrorist acts "terrorism" because that term is clear and well understood." Sadly, in its response, the BBC disagrees:

We do not, however, think that the search for consistency can be achieved through the panel's own definition of 'terrorism.' The panel suggests that the term should be used "in respect of relevant events since it is the most accurate expression for actions which involve violence against randomly selected civilians with the intention of causing terror for ideological, including political or religious objectives, whether perpetrated by state or non-state agencies."

As some commentators have pointed out, such a definition would, for example, exclude attacks on soldiers. It would in our view, introduce the very value judgments the guidance to the Editorial Guidelines is asking us to avoid....

In the absence of an agreed definition, we think that our present formulation is preferable in the interests of a consistent approach which we will make renewed efforts to uphold....

In addition, the BBC has decided to ignore other recommendations, including the appointment of a single editorial "guiding hand", while appointing a West Bank Correspondent, despite the fact that existing Jerusalem-based BBC staff already seem to spend a great deal of time reporting from Palestinian areas. The BBC maintains that its complaints procedure is sound - something that HonestReporting UK encourages its subscribers to make use of. The BBC is obliged to take all complaints seriously and to respond. While these responses may not always be to our liking, they do maintain a certain level of accountability and self-examination on the BBC's part. BBC Complaints can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/.

For more reaction to the BBC response, see Melanie Phillips's Diary.

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