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Can You Spot the Reuters Mistake Here?

Your Hamas, history, and Arab Peace Initiative lesson for the day

Adam Chandler
May 03, 2013
Ismail Haniyeh(AFP)
Ismail Haniyeh(AFP)

Today, Reuters is reporting that Hamas is not a fan of the revamped Arab Peace Initiative, which made waves this week when it was put forth by the Qatari prime minister.

In a statement today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh channeled Jay-Z by essentially saying that we must not let outsiders violate our blocks. (Of course, if Qatar wants to pledge hundreds of millions of dollars to reconstruction in Gaza, you know, no problem.)

In reporting the statement, Reuters placed Haniyeh’s quote and context thusly:

“The so-called new Arab initiative is rejected by our people, by our nation and no one can accept it,” said Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas government in the coastal enclave.

“The initiative contains numerous dangers to our people in the occupied land of 1967, 1948 and to our people in exile.”

He was referring to the partition of British-mandate Palestine in 1948 when the United Nations voted to divide the territory into a Jewish state and an Arab state, and to the 1967 war when Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

There is a mistake here, which if you can’t spot yourself, I’ll explain after the break here.


The article does get it right in explaining that Hamas rejects Israel’s right to exist and that Hamas claims all land between the river and the sea to be Palestinian. But in the quote above, Haniyeh wasn’t referring to the “partition of British-mandate Palestine in 1948 when the United Nations voted to divide the territory into a Jewish state and an Arab state” when he said he talked about the occupied land of 1948.

It’s a pretty basic fact that the vote on UN Resolution 181–the Partition Plan–took place in November 1947. What Haniyeh was bemoaning was the Israeli War of Independence, which started in 1948 after the Arabs rejected the UN partition plan, Israel declared independence, and seven Arab nations attacked.

I’m not sure you can call this a subtle mistake, but it’s an important one because it was the War of Independence (or in Haniyeh-ese “The Nakba”) that brought Israel into the world. 65 years later, Israel exists and Hamas refuses to accept its existence. The Hamas denial of this very real, generations-old fact–and all rejectionism for that matter–is a major reason why proposals like the Arab Peace Initiative and numerous Israeli proposals and overtures have not produced lasting peace.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.