THE BLOG
09/10/2014 06:28 pm ET Updated Nov 09, 2014

Why Has Sisi's Offer to Abbas Gotten So Little Attention?

Some might think that Hamas is very busy with the post-battle reconstruction of Gaza these days. Regretfully, most signs imply otherwise. Hamas is already focusing on restoring its "terror tunnels" into Israeli territory, alongside the resumption of rocket production. Meanwhile, the relations with Fatah seem to have reached a new low: Abbas has threatened to break off the unity agreement with Hamas "if the situation continues like this in Gaza, where there is a shadow government running the territory." Hamas said it refuses to demilitarize and added that it will treat any international force in Gaza as "forces of occupation," implying on its sentiments towards Fatah police, which is supposed to be part of a long term agreement.

Unfortunately, these stories have hardly made any headlines. Neither has the possibly game-changing Egyptian initiative backed by the US -- Sisi offered to give the Palestinians a large chunk of the Sinai peninsula, in order to connect it to the Gaza strip and create a beautiful coastal country, five times the size of Gaza, along with autonomy for Palestinians residing in WB. This surprising out-of-the-box thinking which could actually be a win-win situation (or win-win-win if you count Egypt's interests) was hardly mentioned, and neither was Abbas's immediate refusal to accept it (which doesn't mean he's not open for negotiation). Sisi allegedly said to Abbas in their meeting: "You are now 80 years old, if you don't accept this proposal, your successor will."

This story is still relatively fresh, and hopefully it will get the media attention it deserves, seeing that international media has its hands full with horrid ISIS stories at the moment. Why is it important? Because if these developments won't gain momentum, it will be easier for Hamas to regain power and even try to take over the West Bank, while everyone's focus is elsewhere.

It may be a coincidence, but lately it seems more and more international journalists are expressing remorse for the way the Israeli-Arab conflict has been covered, wondering if the well-intended agenda is actually harming the chances for a two-state resolution. The most viral article was written by an ex-AP rep in Jerusalem -- it went wild on the web with nearly 80,000 shares and tweets. The writer, who is no longer employed by the news agency, revealed numerous untold stories that paint a sad picture of the systematic approach of major news agencies: refraining from covering the many atrocities caused by Hamas and its rivalry with Fatah, and believing, for some reason, that "it's not part of the story." He concludes that the fact that many journalists see their role as political as opposed to explanatory, may derive from a good intention, but what actually happens is that they "pick a side" and filter the facts that don't go along well with that side. The result in the long run is the creation of a twisted picture of the Middle East, and an unreasonable obsession with the conflict which has also lead to underestimating the ISIS phenomenon, until the extremist movement was well into its mass-murder sprees.

This writer is not alone.

Two weeks ago, Richard Behar published a very elaborate piece in Forbes, swamped with examples of irresponsible coverage of the conflict, especially by the New York Times. He accused journalists of "becoming part of the Hamas war machine, breathlessly pushing the Hamas narrative, whether because they are cowed by its threats, sympathetic to its cause, or simply ignorant."

He argued that the Times had a big staff covering the war and aired numerous reports every day, but neglected to publish "any images of Hamas terrorists holding guns or engaged in hostile activities, as if there's only one side to the conflict." He continued that it was bad journalism to never mention the primitive Hamas charter or ideology, which is "but a continuation of Hitler's unfinished business from World War II." He was also astounded by many facts that were somehow found "not fit to print." For example:

  • Proof of the use of civilians as human shields (that was exposed by reporters for smaller media outlets).
  • The sleazy Qatar-Al Jazeera-Hamas connection.
  • Any report of the number of casualties that was not processed by Hamas (the UN uses these Hamas processed figures as well).
"It became obvious that major Western journalists routinely swallowed the huge civilian-casualty figures dished out to them by Gaza's Ministry of Health, a bureaucratic arm of a terrorist group that was shown to have lied about such figures in past wars," he wrote. Behar also accused the New York Times for allowing many op-ed contributors to freely use the words "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians, and called it "farcical slander." (Since 1948, the Palestinian population in the territories has been rapidly growing and has increased eightfold, reaching over 4 million. An estimated 25,000 were killed as a result of the conflict during the past 65 years, about half of them during the 1948 war.)

Similar articles that criticize the failure to report a true picture, especially of Hamas' twisted ways, have been written by Tom Gross of the Canadian National Post, and by Richard Miron, a former news correspondent for the BBC in the Middle East.

All of these journalists came to the same conclusion: The belief that Israeli policy, as wrong as it might be, is the only part of the story worth telling, has only two outcomes: the frightening rise in hatred for Jews resulting in unprecedented anti-Semitic actions across Europe, and the strengthening of Hamas. The saddest part is that it has not proved to have any efficiency in bringing the conflict closer to an end. On the contrary -- as long as Hamas actions remain in the dark, it will gain strength, and the conflict will only become worse, mostly at the expense of the Palestinians.