Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Week - Inane Faine; Spot the difference; Out of sync

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Inane Faine

ABC Radio's Melbourne host Jon Faine (23/1) should hang his head in shame for his line of questioning to Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the results of the Israeli election. Even though the evidence showed the opposite, Faine claimed that "the Coalition likely to be elected in the new Knesset in Israel looks like it is going to oppose the peace process."

To her credit, Gillard refused to take the bait responding that it "wouldn't be appropriate" to comment "on the nature of the Israeli Government until all the election processes are finished, counted and a government is formed."

Unhappy with the answer, Faine persisted, asking what Australia's response would be if "a two-nation solution" is not matched by "a close ally, and we're told a strong friend, a government in Israel that no longer agrees with our position."

It beggars belief that Faine could offer his listeners blatantly incorrect claims as fact. Since 2009 Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has stated on the record his support for a two-state outcome. He has repeatedly called on the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table without preconditions, which they have refused to for four years. These facts are easily verifiable on Google.

Spot the difference

The Age editorialised (28/1) on Israel's elections that "the door [for peace talks] remains only ajar, but it could have slammed" if Likud-Beitenu had not lost seats.

Settlement building was criticised as a "pander to religious parties" and threat to a future Palestinian state.

Benjamin Netanyahu's promise to form "as broad a coalition as possible...cannot be so broad as to include parties that would veto talks on a two-state solution, which is favoured by most Israelis including [Yesh Atid party leader Yair] Lapid. (He is sceptical, however, of Palestinian commitments to peace and rejects a divided Jerusalem.)"

In fact there is little daylight between Lapid and Netanyahu regarding the peace process and on October 30, in a major policy speech in the settlement of Ariel, Lapid opposed a building freeze in existing settlements.

On a more positive note, the editorial also insisted that "Palestinian leaders...negotiate without preconditions...and Palestinian moderates should not be hostage to the actions of extremists, such as the Hamas rulers of Gaza, who refuse to recognise Israel and reject the two-state vision."

Out of sync

A story from SBS "World News" reporter Lisa Upton (23/1) on Netanyahu's re-election implied that the next Israeli government would be fundamentally right wing despite the strength of centrist parties.

Netanyahu, Upton said, is expected "to seek an alliance with the right wing Naftali Bennett" who is "the closest thing to a rock star in Israeli politics...Jewish Home supports the building of Israeli settlements and opposes a two-state solution with the Palestinians." Lapid was not mentioned as Netanyahu's more probable first port of call.

Upton also said "Among Palestinians there are few expectations that Mr Netanyahu will get the peace process rolling again." Of course he won't because it is the Palestinian Authority that opposes restarting negotiations, not Netanyahu!

Allon Lee

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