The BBC has a special kind of gremlin. It’s not just any old gremlin - it’s an anti-Zionist kind of a gremlin whose task is to sabotage Israeli spokespersons while they try to reply to adversarial questioning framed in (default) Palestinian terms.
This morning I managed to catch Jeremy Bowen (scroll to 2:37) Beebsplaining the Israelis’ (impliedly bad-faith) annexation proposals “which the Palestinians are not going to accept, as you might expect” […] “would be a milestone, a real milestone because it would be the moment when the two-state solution is buried forever.”
Only now we’re told that Netanyahu is ‘dithering’. “When it comes to decisions like this,” says Bowen, “[Netanyahu’s] been quite well-known to dither” an interesting turn of phrase I thought. At least ‘dithering makes a change from ‘swaggering’. Anyway, I had the impression that Jeremy Bowen doesn’t think much of the annexation plan. When he’d finished Nick Robinson announced that he was about to speak to Sharren Haskel, a member of Israel Likud foreign affairs committee.
Good morning to you.
We just heard there that your Prime Minister is hesitating. Are you one of those urging him to move on?
Hello? Sorry you cut out, I couldn’t hear the question.
Now, I’ll repeat it - I’m sorry about the quality of the line. We were just hearing there that Presid - - Prime Minister Netanyahu is hesitating about declaring Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank - what much of the world regards as annexation. Do you think he should, and will, proceed?
Yeah, um, absolutely. I think we should have done it many years ago when we realised that the Palestinians are refusing to negotiate, refusing to accept any kind of deal, refusing to come to a compromise with Israel has been happening for decades now. And so sovereignty is what Israel needs to create more stability, to create better security in the area and to actually create a better prosperity for Israelis and for Palestinians in the area where ‘sovereignity’(sic) will be applied.
Well what you call sovereignty and what other people insist is annexation, will mean that a large number of Palestinians are then directly under Israeli rule, will you give them citizenship of your country and full democratic and legal rights?……
I’m very sorry, i think we’ve lost the line to Sharron Haskel… let’s just see if we can get that back, no, I’m afraid it doesn’t look as though we’ll be able to get that line back to Sharren Haskel but thank you to her for joining us.
It’s 14 minutes to nine. We can return now to Israel and to the Likud member of the Knesset we were talking to, Sharren Haskel, morning to you again, I’m sorry your line went, the question I was asking you Sharren Haskel was whether after you declare sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank, what many people call annexation, will the Palestinians in those areas be given full rights as Israeli citizens. Would you treat them as full Israeli citizens?
SH (gurgling through a snorkel from the bottom of a very deep well)
Absolutely, we are going to apply probably around sixty(?) per cent of area C, so Area As are under the jurisdiction of Palestinians, Area Cs are under the jurisdictions of Israelis. Fifty(?) per cent of the areas of Israelis will have sovereignty and will no longer have a military government if I would call that so - it means that if Israelis and Palestinians, specifically mainly around the Jordan Valley will be able to finally coexist and live side by side and will be able to develop businesses, the economy, will be able to share roads, schools, electricity suppliers, things like that (muffled) is going to be one of the first signs that finally Israelis and Palestinians will have to learn how to live together…..
Many of your critics, I just want to give you a chance to respond, and this is….I just want you to respond to the critics - this looks like the Bantustan plans that were in apartheid South Africa, which is why the British Prime Minister has condemned the plan, that’s why the EU has condemned the plan, which is why the leaders of many Jewish communities in Britain have condemned the plan.
Well, I think that most people who try and make this assumption, that this is an apartheid or anything like that, know very little about Israel about its history about the jealousy(?) and really that’s what’s happening here. I’m talking with many of the local (muffled) we are sharing the same roads obviously the plan of Oslo accords that basically pushed through the international community on Israel is what actually created the situation between Israelis and between the Palestinians. Beforehand there was pretty much free movement between the two people - once we started separating it this is where the terrorist attacks after the Oslo accords. Suicide bombers started arriving in cities like Tel Aviv, like Haifa,….
..Jerusalem, so, to be honest, we see it as one way to create stability and coexistence between us and the Palestinians
Sharren Haskel we’ll have you back later on when we’ve got a rather better line and we did, of course hear from the representative of the Palestinian Authority earlier in the programme.
I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that transcription of Sharren Haskel’s gremlin-rich dialogue, but I think we got the gist. Anyway, as soon as I was able, I consulted BBC Sounds - by the way, the BBC has made locating specific parts of the contents of the Today programme virtually inaccessible now that they’ve axed ‘Running Order’ along with all the detailed info they used to provide. Nevertheless, I found the interview he referred to (back at 7:21am) where he interviewed Husam Zomlot.
Nick RobinsonToday is the day when Israel could begin to annex large parts of what most of the world regards as the illegally occupied west bank, dashing hopes of the so-called two state solution in which an independent Palestinian state lives alongside Israel in peace.Most, but crucially not all. Donald Trump has given Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a green light to declare Israeli sovereignty over areas which already have large Israeli settlements.We’re joined now by the head of the Palestinian mission to the UK, Husak - Husam - Zomlot. Good morning to you.
HZGood morning thank you for having me.
NRGood to talk to you this morning. Could you explain to people what this would actually change, after all the Israeli settlements are there, Israel has long claimed sovereignty over them, what if Mr Netanyahu went ahead with what you call annexation, what would actually change?
HZWell, actually your question is the right question, I’m afraid it won’t change much about the already ‘on the deathbed’ peace process with us, the Palestinians, I mean who are Israel and the Palestinians, because Israel has already destroyed this long ago, long before this proposed illegal annexation as you mentioned, the moment we signed the peace agreements in 1993 we were busy, the world was busy, building the Palestinian State institutions, only 22% of the story for Palestine as granted the international framework, as Israeli agreement and signed commitments and fair, what Israel has been demanding two states, yet Israel was busy in the last 25 years building these illegal colonial settlements, jeopardising any possibility for a Palestinian state, preempting a two state solution.What this does now, this illegal annexation is actually changing the nature of Israel from a temporary occupier as old agreements, to a permanent occupier, and therefore we are into the situation of apartheid and segregation system and open-ended conflicts. Second, its relationship to the region and it endangers stability in the entire Middle east. The King of Jordan was clear that this will lead to severe confrontations, and thirdly it makes mockery of International legality, international rules and it will be a question of who’s next, it’s not only gonna be Netanyahu and Trump and All this was done…NRAnd these are all points I’m going to make to an Israeli spokesman later in the programme. Could you not, Mr Zomlot, say it’s no point having a history lesson about what has gone wrong, this could be just a recognition of reality and the push that is needed to say, let us deal with that reality and work out what can be saved of any hope of a peace process.
HZSeriously Nick, I mean that if reality and de facto control of annexation is to be taken international affairs you’re talking about the rule of the jungle and I assure you there are hundreds of Netanyahus there who want to operate such political circus and want to grab land and want to assure to be reelected and dodge criminal charges and wreak havoc everywhere at the expense of future generations and future possibilities. No, sir. Do you like…..who was very pioneering and championing the establishment of international rules after the second world war for this particular purpose. That international relations is not convened based on power, based on vested interests and land-grab, but it is convened based on rules and we..
NROne last word, if i may Mr Zomlot, I’m sorry to rush you but we’re a bit short of time, now I’d like your view on this - this is the first day when Mr Netanyahu could do this but there are lots of people speculating that he might not, that divisions in the Israel cabinet mean that he is reluctant to go ahead. What’s your sense of it?
HZWell, I think - I think it’s a matter of time for him - he might delay it a bit because of some pressure internally and outside, and from the region, but I believe the calculus for him remains to be net gain, he wants to do it for his personal gain, he wants to do it for Trump and the base of Trump, this is feeding the beast of ultra nationalism, of racism; he wants to do it for strategic purposes, he is anti two-state solution, he is anti peace ideologically, he looks down at peoples’ aspirations, and of course, he wants to do it as a political diversion, so far all that came from the world, was not really tantamount to changing his calculus.
NRHusam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian mission to the UK. We’ll be speaking to a Likud member of Parliament later at half past eight.
I found Nick’s interviewing tone a little more respectful than it was when speaking to Sharren Haskel, and the questioning of Mr Z was far from probing. But for anyone with the slightest interest in, or familiarity with, the Palestinians’ habit of ‘projecting’ their own malevolence onto the enemy, I’d suggest that ultimately Nick allowed old Zomlot enough rope - as the saying goes, with which to ‘expose’ himself in all his malevolent glory.