Reporting on the recent spate of deadly Palestinian attacks against Israelis, Jerusalem-based Fox News reporter Conor Powell twists the facts, presenting a purely Palestinian narrative of supposed Israeli threats to the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and Palestinian “frustration” at the growth of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
The video appears at the bottom of this article.
Here are the more serious omissions and false claims in Powell’s October 12 report, followed by the facts:
Powell: Most [of the attacks] have been stabbings, though two Israelis were killed in a gun attack by an alleged Hamas cell about a week or so ago.
Fact: Powell omits the particularly brutal nature of the gun attack, which shocked even an Israeli public that has seen many terrible murders. The two Israelis killed were a young father and mother, Rabbi Eitam Henkin and his wife Naama. They were shot while driving with their four young children, aged 9, 7, 4, and 9 months, who saw their parents being murdered in front of them. Reporting this brutal murder in such an offhand incomplete way, of course, serves the Palestinian narrative, rather than the truth.
And what is “alleged” about the Hamas cell that committed this crime and that Israel has captured?
Powell: More than two dozen Palestinians have also been killed, including several attackers.
Fact: Powell again distorts the facts to favor the Palestinian side. The Palestinians killed include seven attackers who directly tried to kill Israelis, not “several.” Many of the other Palestinians killed were part of mobs attacking Israeli security forces, including some who tried to rush the fence separating Gaza from Israel.
Powell: The spark for all of this recent violence is really a fight over access to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Fact: Palestinian claims about a supposed threat to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound are a false pretext. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated repeatedly that there will be no change to the status quo. For example, when Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas charged in his speech at the UN that Israel was threatening the mosque compound, Netanyahu once again forcefully denied that Israel would do any such thing:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released the following statement in response to Abu Mazen’s speech:
“Abu Mazen’s speech was deceitful and encourages incitement and lawlessness in the Middle East.
“In contrast to the Palestinians, Israel is strictly maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and is committed to continuing to do so in accordance with the agreements between us and the Jordanians and the Waqf.
“We expect and call on the [Palestinian] Authority and its leader to act responsibly and accede to the proposal of the Prime Minister of Israel and enter into direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions.The fact that he – time and again – has refused to do so is the best possible proof of the fact he does not intend to reach a peace agreement.”
And on September 25, on the occasion of the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha, the Prime Minister’s office released the following statement:
“Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Eid Al Adha greetings to the Muslim community:
“Muslim citizens of Israel and members of the Islamic faith around the world, I would like to wish you all an ‘Eid mubrak’. I hope that this year will be one of peace between the religions. I would like you to know that Israel is maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount. Israel safeguards the holy places of all faiths. Don’t be led astray by incitement, wild incitement that is without foundation. We respect all religions.”
Powell: [The al-Aqsa Mosque compound is] a holy site for both Jews and Muslims. The mosque sits on the site of the second Jewish Temple.
Fact: First, Powell is once again adopting the Palestinian narrative. Nowhere in his report does Powell use the Jewish term for the site, the Temple Mount. It was the Temple Mount – the site of both Jewish Temples, not just the second Temple – more than a thousand years before there was an Islam, before the birth of Mohammed, and before the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem.
And to call it a “holy site for both Jews and Muslims” is an egregious distortion. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism – there is no other site that approaches its holiness. In contrast, Muslims consider the site as just the third holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina.
Powell: Right wing extremist groups here in Israel have pushed to pray there. Under an international agreement between Israel and Jordan, Jews are allowed to visit the site but they are not allowed to pray there, and some members of Netanyahu’s cabinet here and other extremist groups are pushing to change that. They want to be able to pray there.
Fact: It’s absurd to call Jews “right wing” or “extremist” just because they would like to be able to pray at the holiest site in their religion. And by the way, are there any “extremists” on the Palestinian side? Because nowhere in his report does Powell characterize Palestinians, including those who have brutally murdered Israelis, as “extremist” or “terrorist” or with any other pejorative term.
Furthermore, there is no “international agreement” between Israel and Jordan regarding prayer on the Temple Mount. The peace treaty between Israel and Jordan says that Israel will respect Jordan’s traditional role regarding the holy places, which means favoring a Jordanian rather than a Palestinian run Waqf on the Temple Mount:
“In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”
There is an unwritten status quo understanding regarding the Temple Mount, which the Palestinians have routinely violated, first by bringing bombs and rocks into the mosque, which are then thrown at Jews in the plaza below the Temple Mount. And second by using bulldozers and other heavy equipment to build a vast new underground mosque in what had been Solomon’s Stables, thereby destroying the archaeological integrity of the site.
Powell: There is also additional frustration on the part of Palestinians about the growth of settlements in the West Bank in recent years.
Fact: If the Palestinians are “frustrated” at the supposed growth of settlements, or even the lack of a Palestinian state, they should be stabbing their own leaders, not Israelis. For the creation of a Palestinian state and the end of settlement activity was on the table at least twice in recent years, at Camp David, when Yasir Arafat rejected the Clinton Parameters that would have created a Palestinian state over most the West Bank and Gaza, with land swaps to adjust the borders. Instead of accepting the Clinton offer, like the Israelis did, Arafat instead started a second, even more violent, intifada.
Similarly, Abbas turned down Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s even more favorable offer. In both cases, the Palestinian leaders did not even make a counter offer.
If anyone should be frustrated, it’s the Israelis, who have had to endure a violent, bloody conflict that the Palestinians could have easily settled long ago.
Perhaps Fox News viewers might be a little frustrated too, at the sort of one sided, sloppy and uninformed reporting displayed in recent days by Conor Powell.
Here is Powell’s report:
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