What's the Israeli government's new "plan" for peace? Reading the New York Times doesn't help your understand where they stand. Earlier this week, the Times' Ethan Bronner (5/17/11) praised a speech by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for exhibiting "greater flexibility on territory." Bronner wrote that he showed "more willingness to yield territory than he had before, strongly implying that he would give up the vast majority of the West Bank." As Matthew Taylor wrote at Mondoweiss (5/17/11), there was little actual evidence that there was much going on here–just some "implying" and "suggesting."
A Times article today (5/19/11) from Bronner and Helene Cooper makes things more confusing. The piece describes Netanyahu as wanting three things: Israeli military along the Jordan River, control of Jerusalem and holding on to West Bank settlements. His other "condition" is that the Palestinian government cannot include Hamas; the Times notes that "Netanyahu knows that the Palestinians will find this condition unacceptable…. But since the United States labels Hamas as terrorists, Mr. Netanyahu is betting that he will appear more forthcoming than ever."
Well, he's already appeared that way in the pages of the New York Times. Though the piece today also says this:
Whether Mr. Netanyahu's offer, first outlined in a speech to Parliament on Monday, is a genuine attempt to negotiate peace with the Palestinians, or to make it appear that the Palestinians are the ones blocking progress, is not yet clear.
This is hard to square with Bronner's earlier report praising Netanyahu's supposed flexibility. Now it sounds like the Times isn't so sure that it's a sign of much of anything. But to help clarify things, the paper granted anonymity to an Israeli official in order to get the truth:
"On the one hand, the Palestinians are moving toward Hamas while on the other, the prime minister is showing a real willingness to make far-reaching territorial compromise," a top Netanyahu aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
What would be the condition for this? The official needed anonymity in order to more effusively praise his or her boss?