"After all, Israel has ruled millions of Palestinians without offering them citizenship or a state for 40 years."
Of course, as well known to Zakaria, Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert offered Arafat and Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps, and Olmert even offered Palestinian control of east Jerusalem. Arafat and Abbas refused.
After publication of my blog item on this topic yesterday (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/all-washington-posts-mice-fareed.html), Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of The Washington Post finally replied:
Dear Mr. Grossman,
The history of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is contentious and, as I’m sure you know, subject to widely differing interpretation. Mr. Zakaria’s statement is within the bounds of acceptable interpretation for an opinion columnist.
Thank you for your interest.
"The history of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is contentious and, as I'm sure you know, subject to widely differing interpretation"? You don't say! Yes, I can indeed accept this vacuous platitude.
But "Mr. Zakaria's statement is within the bounds of acceptable interpretation for an opinion columnist"? Even the Palestinians are not contending that Israel did not offer them "a state for 40 years." Perhaps it can be claimed that Israeli offers did not meet Palestinian requirements or expectations, but no one - I repeat no one - can claim that offers were not made.
First, have a look at Bernard Avishai's February 2011 New York Times article entitled "A Plan for Peace That Still Could Be" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/magazine/13Israel-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&) in which Avishai writes:
A viable plan exists: it is waiting to be forged from the far-reaching proposals that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority made to each other in 2008. We had a glimpse in mid-January of these negotiations — the 'Palestine Papers,' leaked by Al Jazeera; and then excerpts from Ehud Olmert’s memoir, published in Israel.
. . . .
I spoke with Olmert this year in Jerusalem on the morning of Jan. 21, and that same evening with Abbas in Amman, Jordan. The leaders revealed in detail what was proposed, what was implicitly agreed, what the gaps were and what they suggested was susceptible to compromise.
. . . .
Olmert insisted that he had conceded to Abbas every major demand Palestinians had made for decades: a border based scrupulously on the 1967 lines, a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem and 'recognition of the problem' of refugees.
. . . .
Even on borders, Olmert and Abbas were able to agree on fundamentals: a desire to disrupt as few lives as possible and to maximize the contiguity (and therefore the economic possibility) of Palestinian cities. "We didn’t waste a minute during our months of negotiation," Abbas said.
Where bridging proposals seemed most called for was over the extent and nature of land to be swapped — in effect, the fate of specific large Israeli settlements. The Israeli position, where it diverged from the Palestinian, was not about principle but focused primarily on the practical matter of how many (often violent) settlers the Israeli government would have to force back behind the Green Line.
. . . .
Olmert’s security principles were the following: Palestine would have a strong police force, "everything needed for law enforcement." It would have no army or air force. The Palestinian border with Jordan, through which missiles and heavy armaments might be smuggled, would be patrolled by international forces, probably from NATO.
. . . .
So when Olmert finally showed Abbas his map on Sept. 16, it was an established principle of these negotiations that any territory Israel sought to annex in Greater Jerusalem would have to be compensated like any other occupied territory. This was unprecedented. Olmert held that the no man’s land also be divided 50-50, with Israel understandably taking more around its highway and ceding more in other areas, but this slight divergence from Rice’s definition was of no great consequence. 'I told Abbas this land had never been used, so the only reasonable thing was to divide it,” Olmert said. "He seemed quite happy with it."
The real issue in contention, however, was which Israeli settlements would be permitted to stay, and which would have to be removed.
. . . .
Olmert, for his part, was presenting a plan in which the most sparsely populated settlements would be evacuated, but Efrat (extending from Gush Etzion), Maale Adummim (a town just east of Jerusalem) and Ariel, a town of 18,000 between Ramallah and Nablus, should be permitted to stay.
. . . .
"I told him, 'Sign,'" Olmert said. "'You will never get a better proposal from any Israeli government for the next 50 years.'" Abbas would not sign.
. . . .
Olmert made his most comprehensive offer to Abbas on Sept. 16, 2008, the opening day of the General Assembly in New York.
Count the number of time that the words "offer," "plan," "proposed" and "proposal" appear above.
Concerning Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's earlier peace proposal providing the Palestinians with statehood, have a look at Sandy Tolan's 2011 article in al Jazeera entitled "Two-state solution: A postmortem" (http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/02/201121810588471977.html):
Like other such fictions - chief among them "Israel's generous offer" at Camp David in 2000 - this one is not entirely without substance. As the Palestine Papers show, the two sides did agree on various security arrangements, land swaps and some principles of the right of return, much to the alarm of many Palestinians. Just as significantly, Palestinian negotiators agreed to allow Israel to annex major settlement blocs in East Jerusalem - a fact that, in the wake of the document dump, is eroding what is left of Abbas' credibility among his own people.
. . . .
The US has long been hypersensitive to Israeli domestic political considerations while ignoring those of the Palestinians and the broader Arab and Muslim worlds. In 2000, Yasser Arafat turned down Israel's "generous offer," refusing to agree to a "sovereign presidential compound" in the Old City - essentially, a golden cage near the Muslim holy sites.
Again, it can be claimed that Israeli offers in 2000 did not meet Palestinian requirements or expectations, i.e. were insufficiently "generous,"but no one - I repeat no one - can claim that offers were not made.
Sorry, Mr. Hiatt, but Zakaria's fabrication does not fall "within the bounds of acceptable interpretation for an opinion columnist" or any other serious journalist for that matter.
[See my follow-up e-mail to Fred Hiatt: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/the-ongoing-zakariahiattwashington-post.html]