Home Media Action Alerts2013 CBC Wrongly Claims Netanyahu’s Avoiding Peace Talks with Palestinians

CBC Wrongly Claims Netanyahu’s Avoiding Peace Talks with Palestinians

by Mike Fegelman

In a recent HonestReporting Canada alert, we critiqued CBC News Mideast correspondent Sasa Petricic for wrongly claiming on March 20 that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “avoided negotiations with the Palestinians”. As we noted in our alert and in a complaint we sent to the CBC, this statement is inaccurate as Netanyahu has repeatedly called for negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions. In sharp contrast, it is Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas who has avoided negotiations with Israel by repeatedly demanding that a freeze in Israeli settlement building must occur as a condition to the resumption of peace talks. When U.S. President Barack Obama was in the region last month, he urged the Palestinians to drop their settlement building precondition, but was rebuffed by Abbas. 

Responding to our complaint and that of our members on April 4, Jonathan Whitten, Executive Director, of CBC News Content defended their correspondent’s reporting. Here’s an abridged version of his reply (emphasis added) and the full response can be read by clicking here:

“Yes, Prime Minister Netanyahu has said he would welcome talks without pre-conditions, and he has said it repeatedly. But the situation is more complex than that statement suggests. There are also what are likely seen as more important issues in play.

Four years ago in a speech at Tel Aviv’s Bar-Ilan University, under pressure from the United States, Prime Minister Netanyahu invited the Palestinians to begin talks immediately. It was a notable gesture that appeared to signal a break with two decades of the Prime Minister’s strident ideological opposition to a deal. But having offered to talk, he went on to set out a series of conditions – an undivided Jerusalem, recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state”, Israeli control of the Jordan Valley, a demilitarized Palestinian state, Israeli controlled airspace, and no halt to building settlements – that the Palestinians could be expected to reject out of hand. The speech was widely analyzed, but the general conclusion was that it would make it more difficult to bring the two sides together.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position has changed little since then. He has repeatedly declared his determination (including to the U.S. Senate) that Israeli sovereignty is indisputable, Jerusalem would never be divided. The Palestinians see that, coupled with continued settlement building, especially in the sensitive E-1 corridor, as major roadblocks to resumed talks.”

“… For Mr. Petricic to say he is avoiding the issue is a fair choice of language and a reasonable exercise of judgment based on his assessment of the circumstances.

But let me emphasize once again that his very brief comment arose in a report focused solely on the Israeli Prime Minister and his anticipated discussions with President Obama. It does not reflect the Palestinians who might also be said – although for different reasons – to have at least avoided, if not rejected, the resumption of peace talks.”

Mr. Whitten claimed that CBC journalists “are able to make assessments based on facts,” but despite Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu going on record, literally dozens of times, calling for the immediate resumption of peace talks without preconditions, the CBC doesn’t seem to believe him. The CBC spuriously imputes that Netanyahu demands certain conditions to precede negotiations when only the opposite is true as Netanyahu keeps insisting that he opposes any and all conditions prior to talks. The only one who has been evasive to peace talks is Mahmoud Abbas who keeps insisting on unilateral Israeli concessions. 

As Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported earlier this month, Netanyahu insists that “questions of security and recognition” of Israel should be resolved immediately at the onset of negotiations and not before those negotiations commence. In a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanyahu stated that he was “determined not only to resume the peace process with the Palestinians, but to make a serious effort to end this conflict once and for all.” 

After receiving Mr. Whitten’s reply, HonestReporting Canada member Steve Solomon parsed his letter and responded back saying: “… I respectfully suggest that given the competing narratives between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, to suggest as did Mr. Petricic , ‘…that over the past couple of years Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has avoided negotiations with the Palestinians …’ implies to the listeners, very strongly, that the blame lies squarely on one side of a very complex equation. In such circumstances, I believe that it would behove a veteran reporter to be more circumspect with his choice of descriptive terminology.” 

Another HRC member, Ms. Maya Lamm, responded back to Mr. Whitten saying: “His (Netanyahu) setting out his red lines (the conditions you note below) are not preconditions to the negotiations themselves, any more than Abbas repeating his demand for a ‘right of return’ (though Abbas does indeed set out preconditions for negotiations)… (also) your time line is wrong. After the Bar Ilan speech, which you claim made things harder, there was indeed a resumption of negotiations months later, broken off by — uh oh, it was by Abbas. Doesn’t quite fit your answer below).” 

While HRC member Jack Micay relayed the following statement directly to HRC: “Basically what Mr. Whitten is saying in the last 2/3’s or so of the letter is this: We know what Netanyahu has said publicly on many occasions, but rather than report what he has said, since we don’t like him or trust him, we are going to instead tell our viewers and listeners what we think is going on in his mind. In other words we feel entitled to substitute our opinions (prejudices) for the facts.” 

Unsurprisingly, CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin’s April 17 review of HRC member Paul Gazin’s complaint did not find any violation of the CBC’s journalistic standards. Enkin stated (emphasis added): “It is reasonable when dealing with politicians of any country to judge them by their actions more than by their words. What they say matters, but what they do matters more.” In sum, CBC has staked out the position – agreed to by its Ombud – that Netanyahu is a dishonest politician not interested in peace talks with his Palestinian counterparts. 

Enkin claims (emphasis added): “He (reporter Petricic) did not say Mr. Netanyahu was solely responsible for the lack of talks.” Of course, failing to inform CBC viewers of Abbas’ avoidance tendencies can lead CBC viewers to the only conclusion that Netanyahu was solely responsible for the lack of peace talks.

Additionally, Mr. Whitten and the CBC also rejected our request that a correction be aired in response to an April 9 CBC Radio report by Mideast correspondent Derek Stoffel who falsely claimed that the Israelis “want the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel as a Jewish state before talks can begin again”.

Whitten claimed (emphasis added): “Israel may not have “stipulated” that it is a condition to be met first. Prime Minister Netanyahu may not have explicitly “said” it is a “pre-condition” to talks. But he has made it abundantly clear over the years, as has the Israeli government, that it wants that recognition, and without it there can be no diplomacy.”

With sophistry, CBC reporters and editors continue to wrongly claim that Israel calls for preconditions to peace talks when no such requirements are part of the current Israeli negotiating posture. That the CBC is of the opinion, or as they put it, has made an “assessment based on facts,” that Netanyahu is obstructing the resumption of peace talks, indicates that an appearance of bias prevails against Israel at the CBC. That the CBC communicates this stance publicly, shows how unabashed this bias may be.



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Anonymous April 26, 2013 - 5:42 pm

anyone who doesn’t know that NETANYAHU has been practically begging for the resumption of talks is living on another planet. Personally i wouldn’t ask these people more than once but that’s me and i am not the PM of israel.

Nadine Lumley May 5, 2013 - 8:57 pm

Stephen Harper’s Tories Use Tax Payer’s Money for Online
Thumb Clickers: Harper’s Conservatives
have been particularly scrupulous about pushing their views into the comments
section of websites,

… and many of their online assaults appear orchestrated.



Anonymous May 5, 2013 - 9:14 pm

nadine, yours is a life made difficult because of an empty head.
keep walking towards the sea until your hat floats. poor dear, get a fucking life.

Anonymous April 26, 2013 - 5:52 pm

Petrocic is very definitely a protected species at the CBC. I have complained to them as well, about a different matter, where Petrocic clearly took the Palestinian version of events at face value and slammed Israel. The responses I got were similar. For some reason, this reporter is allowed to say whatever he wants and is never taken to task when he gets it wrong.

Anonymous April 26, 2013 - 6:03 pm

Whitten is an out and out liar and fraud. AFTER the Bar Ilan speech, talks with the Palestinians DID occur. So how could Netanyahu have been avoiding peace talks if he entered them and his position hasn’t changed? And that Whitten now adds a new imagined Israeli precondition of acceptance of a Jewish state is not just a lie, but it shows malicious intent because it is so palpably false.

The rot at the CBC is too great to change by mere letters. We must lobby the government to reduce funds to this bastion of hate, these union slime so smug that they feel entrenched in their positions. Whitten and his ilk are anti-Israel parasites that need to be rooted out of the CBC once and for all.

Nadine Lumley May 5, 2013 - 8:57 pm

Fed’s “Communication” Deptpartment?

The same dept that hires professional astroturfers to seed
their fever swamp mentality on comment boards in newspapers? At no financial benefit to the newspapers?



Anonymous April 26, 2013 - 6:16 pm


Therefore the reason they don’t kick Petrocic the fuck off the CBC is because the last time this was attempted the person fractured his 3 toes and ankle. So they decided to leave this imbecile alone.

Anonymous April 26, 2013 - 7:09 pm

This is the same kind of BS the editors at CBC dish out every time it is pointed out that they are LYING.

Nadine Lumley May 5, 2013 - 8:56 pm

HarperCON’s handpicked henchmen holds the CBC hostage: The
irony here is that the CBC is extremely professional — so professional, in
fact, that the Harper government is counting on that professionalism to prevent
the CBC from saying publicly what is obviously true.


Isaac April 26, 2013 - 7:24 pm

It has been obvious over the years that organizations such as the CBC purposely distort the news and thereby cause Israel a great deal of damage around the world. I would categorize these organizations as “media terrorists” because the damage they cause is just as destructive as the planting of bombs in public places.

No other country would have tolerated this continuous distorted and biased reporting for as long as Israel has tolerated it.

It is time that the Israeli government ban/expel all media companies, such as the CBC, that have declared war against it. These companies have proved themselves to be the enemies of the state and should be treated accordingly.

Anonymous April 26, 2013 - 7:29 pm

Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan speech was on June 14, 2009. Netanyahu sat down face to face with Abbas in Washington DC on September 2, 2010 and began negotiations WITHOUT any preconditions. After a number of direct negotiations with Israel in September 2010, on September 21, 2010 the PA’s Salam Fayad stormed out of a meeting with Israeli representatives in New York, and never came back, thus ending negotiations until today, despite repeated entreaties by Israel to resume negotiations.

The breathtaking, outrageous lies of Jonathan Whitten in face of these facts shows what a lowlife anti-Israel fraud he is. That he holds an executive job at the CBC is a disgrace to Canada, and, in my opinion, a breach of trust from the public purse. Our government needs to act now on this biased, hateful rot at the CBC. It seems to be getting worse.

Nadine Lumley May 5, 2013 - 8:56 pm

Repost from Mark Whitbread – Stephen Harper appointed the
entire board of directors and the President of the CBC. I’m just wondering why Canada’s top
Conservative would appoint left-biased / right-wing CEOs and Directors to run
the CBC.

Repost from XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX – Re CBC – I don’t agree with
those who are blaming CBC for getting the Cons elected, etc. I know people who work at a couple of
different CBC stations and the inside story – which they can’t reveal – is
awful. Ever since Steve HarperCON’s guy
took over, the pressure on them has been enormous! You’ve noticed, for example Evan being not
only front and centre, but now promoted!
Evan?! That’s all coming down
from HarpCons.

Every person who works there is absolutely walking on eggs
almost all the time – unless they’ve been appointed by Harper. There have been tons of
“unexpected” lay-offs and “disappearances” of staff who
tried to buck the system or to report differently. From all the CBC people I know, in fact –
under the dreadful circumstances and incredible pressures in which they find
themselves for the past few years, increasingly since pre-election – they have
managed to keep doing a pretty good job, imo – all things considered. They still are mostly really trying and they
still do better than anyone else we have.
There are definitely two sides to this story – so I’m just mentioning
the other side.

I remember reading something a couple of months ago, about
the employees of CBC having to sign some kind of agreement which affects their
ability to criticize the government. not exactly a gag order.


Anonymous May 6, 2013 - 4:35 pm

You are quite obviously mentally ill and unstable. Are you secretly in love with Stephen Harper and this is how you manifest your love? Seek help for yourself.

Anonymous April 27, 2013 - 11:37 am

The fake phony, frauds at the u.n. are so numerous that if the the D.A. opened an office there and hired 1000 investigators they would be busy until the year 2099, and there would still be work left over. The un has not worked to anyone’s satisfaction except to those operating in bad faith.

Nadine Lumley May 5, 2013 - 8:55 pm

The reason the right-wing government in Israel gets away
with murder is because everyone is so scared of being called an anti-Semite. I’m not anti-Semite; I’m anti-murder.

Support for Israel equals support for war crimes against
Palestine. (I think the right-wing
corporate-owned Israeli government is just hiding behind the Zionist movement just
like Stephen Harper hides his corporate agenda behind evangelicalism).



Nadine Lumley May 5, 2013 - 8:56 pm

Repost from xxxxxxxx –
You would have to understand the ruling/hierarchy of the CBC since
Harper became Prime Minister. Do you
remember the scandal about him taking control of what was said and reported from
his MPs and government workers? CBC
employees are also employees of the Federal Government.

The interview you are referring to was scripted and
controlled by the Harper government. If
Peter Mansbridge were to refuse to partake in the “Prime Minister’s
Promo”, he would have lost his job.
Some of us knew he wanted to quit, yet he stayed hoping to eventually
honour the truth.


Anonymous May 6, 2013 - 5:46 pm

NADINE, do you know that when you pull, push, and just about do all that you should not do with that thing between your legs, do you know that can make you dumb. You have a big lead in that area starting out, don’t make it worse.
Aside from being a political moron i could like you. I know you were expecting that i call you a useful idiot; but in reality you are useless.
Just send me your picture, drop it off at any post office and i will get together with you and effect a cure.


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