President Trump took a number of steps Monday to force Palestine to participate in his peace process or get out.
Mainstream media were not pleased.
The president announced he would withdraw more aid from the Palestinian Authority, which governs Gaza and the West Bank. He also ordered the Palestinian Liberation Organization – its diplomatic branch – to clear out of its Washington headquarters.
The New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, Slate, Vox and NBC ran stories on Trump evicting the PLO, most of which included reaction quotes.
But other than quoting from the State Department press release, the speech by National Security adviser John Bolton in which it was discussed, and a perfunctory quote from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, there were 12 quotes against the move and one – from an anonymous administration official – in favor.
Hanan Ashwari, whom CBS identified as an executive member of the PLO, “accused the administration of threatening to cause ‘serious instability and grave harm’ to thousands of patients and their families across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of workers in the Palestinian health sector.”
CBS also quoted Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian diplomat, saying in a statement: “We have been notified by a US official of their decision to close the Palestinian Mission to the U.S. This yet another affirmation of the Trump administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education.”
Vox quoted Ashrawi saying the US government’s decision was “extremely cruel and spiteful to persist in deliberately bashing the Palestinian people by denying them of their rights, giving away their lands and rightful capital of Jerusalem’ and added that it was a form of ‘crude and vicious blackmail.’”
It also quoted a PLO spokesman on the West Bank, who called the decision “’a declaration of war on efforts to bring peace to our country and the region” and another, whom it identified as the Palestinian representative to Washington, saying, “All of this is making sure the US will never ever play the role of peacemaker.”
The outlets did not find a single source in favor of the plan, but instead used key words to let readers know their opinion.
The move “disparaged an international organization vilified by conservatives,” the New York Times’ Mark Landler wrote in “Bolton Expands on His Boss’s Views, Except on North Korea,” which dealt with the PLO mission being closed and other matters.
It closed its story with a quote from Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: “In decades of working on this issue, I’ve never seen an administration so committed to Israel and at the same time so hostile to Palestinians without a coherent policy objective on both ends.”
Slate focused on the fact the announcement “angered Palestinian officials, who have felt increasingly at odds with the U.S. after the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year,” wrote Molly Olmsted.
“It was the latest move in the Trump administration’s campaign to put pressure on the Palestinian government – a campaign that the Palestinians perceive as a form of bullying by a biased country that has no right to be so involved in the negotiations.”
The Post took a similar tack – explaining how the Palestinians had been wronged with no explanation for why. It lets Erekat accuse the US leadership of “collective punishment” and assert “These people have decided to stand on the wrong side of history by protecting war criminals and destroying the two-state solution.”
But neither writer pointed out the Palestinians may not see a place for the U.S. at the negotiating table, but it continued to depend on U.S. money.