PBS Puts Onus on Israeli Victims, Wants ‘Carrots’ for Hamas to Free Hostages

News & Politics

One way to demonstrate the slant in PBS’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas war is to compare and contrast how their interviewers treat representatives of the respective sides. On Monday’s edition of the PBS NewsHour, reporter Leila Molana-Allen conducted a friendly interview with Mohammad Shtayyeh, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, which represents the West Bank, and who has failed to condemn the Hamas atrocities.

Note Bennett has already placed the onus on Israel, not on the instigators of the war, Hamas.

After opening with Shtayyeh ranting that Israel’s war was “against children, women, university professors, priests, chefs” and not Hamas, Leila Molana-Allen opened with a tough question.

But the rest of her questions to Shtayyeh were non-challenging. A small sample:

She offered her hand at the end of the interview, and the two shook hands.

Now the contrast.

On Tuesday, PBS reporter Nick Schifrin talked remotely from the studio with Mark Regev, senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel is waging a counterattack to decimate Hamas and to rescue Israeli civilian hostages, including children, taken on October 7. Yet Schifrin’s tone toward Regev was much more challenging than was Molana-Allen’s talk with the Palestinian Authority leader.

After Regev pointed out that children were among the hostages held by Hamas, Schifrin wanted Israel to give a little in Hamas’s direction. “You have said, that the military operation, you hope, pressures them to release hostages. Are you also providing any carrots to Hamas to convince them to release hostages?” he wanted to know.

When Schifrin pushed the Palestinian Authority’s so-called “two-state solution.” Regev pushed back, noting “the P.A. has yet to condemn those attacks.” Schifrin immediately changed the subject:

Schifrin reframed his accusative question: “If Israel could kill one Hamas commander, and take out one tunnel and for example, know that 100 civilians could be killed, would you take that shot?

PBS NewsHour
7:11:37 p.m. (ET)

Geoff Bennett: A major player in Palestinian life is largely sidelined in this latest and bloodiest conflict, the Palestinian Authority.

Since it was evicted from Gaza by Hamas in 2007, the P.A. has governed the parts of the West Bank it controls.

Leila Molana-Allen sat down with the Palestinian Authority prime minister for a rare interview, and asked him about the state of the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

Mohammad Shtayyeh, Palestinian Prime Minister: Israel is launching a comprehensive war against the Palestinian people. This war is not against Hamas. This war is against children, women, university professors, priests, chefs, you name it.

Look at the list of Palestinians who have been killed. They have names. They have their mothers. They have fathers. They have dreams. There are more than 1,000 Palestinians who are under the rubble. In Gaza, we don’t have the equipment. We don’t have the bulldozers to remove the rubble at this stage.

So it is a catastrophic situation. And the Israelis are the occupiers. So, when people speak about self-defense, a self — an occupier is not in a self-defense situation. An occupier is an attacker, an aggressor.

Leila Molana-Allen: The Hamas leadership is sitting there saying there will be a second and a third and a fourth October 7. How could Israel possibly step back and say, OK, we’re going to lighten off on the invasion?

Mohammad Shtayyeh: I don’t see things that way.

I see things in a totally different perspective. The Israeli intentions has never been to really reach an agreement with the Palestinians. So, the Palestinians are angry, frustrated. They don’t anymore believe in what Israel claims, that it is ready for peace.

Look what is happening today. This Israeli government is the most aggressive government in the history of the conflict. Some of them are thirsty for Palestinian blood, and they are calling for killing Palestinians.

Leila Molana-Allen: Prime Minister Netanyahu has been very clear that, after this war, Israel has no interest in governing Gaza again. They obviously are not willing to have Hamas in power in Gaza. What’s your attitude to that, to going in and taking control of Gaza?

Mohammad Shtayyeh: Palestinian Authority has never been away from Gaza. We have been providing electricity. We have been providing water. We have been providing education material. We pay the salaries for the teachers. We pay the salaries for the doctors.

We have been in charge of every single day. We issue the passports for Gaza. So, our relationship with Gaza never stopped for the last 17 years. Now, we are not going to go to Gaza on an Israeli military tank.

We are going to go to Gaza as part of a solution that deals with the question of Palestine, that deals with occupation. So, for Mr. Netanyahu to say that he doesn’t want to interfere or control Gaza, he is already controlling the West Bank, and he is already — his army is in every village and every city and every refugee camp.

Leila Molana-Allen: We have seen in the last few weeks since this war began a huge escalation in violence in the West Bank. We’re seeing daily raids into Palestinian towns, cities, camps by the Israeli Defense Forces, lots of young people dying, also a lot of violence with settlement communities as well.

Mohammad Shtayyeh: The main goal for Israel to achieve is to kill every future possibility of a Palestinian independent sovereign state. That is the — what Netanyahu wants and that is what the Israeli government wants.

So, the Israeli attack in the West Bank is in parallel with what has been happening in Gaza, i.e., putting Gaza under siege. Land in Palestine, like in any other where, is a zero sum game, is a zero sum game. Every single acre of land that the Israelis take is one acre of land that the Palestinians lose.

That is what — the real suffering of people. You have 68 different checkpoints. They take our water. They use our skies. They kill our children; 5,200 Palestinians are in Israeli prison. That is why the cycle of violence will repeat itself every day, every week, every month. They need a solution.

Leila Molana-Allen: There’s always a call for something. There’s always a call for something to change, for an end to the occupation, for a future for a Palestinian state.

The calls don’t go anywhere. Whenever there’s a U.N. resolution, people don’t pay attention to them anymore. What practically do you want from your Arab partners, from your other partners, to make something happen?

Mohammad Shtayyeh: You are right. Palestinians are really fed up with the statements, and Palestinians are fed up with United Nations resolutions, more than 800 United Nations resolutions. Not one single one has ever been implemented.

Now there is no room for more negotiations. We are sick of these negotiations. Palestinians, they want Israel to say that Israel is ready to end occupation that has occurred on the Palestinian territory and then put a time frame for ending this occupation.

And I think United States should not continue to give Israel the greenest of the green light to continue its colonization, to continue its atrocities, to continuous its genocide against the Palestinian people.

Leila Molana-Allen: What should America’s role be right now in this war and moving forward to any kind of peaceful solution after it ends?

Mohammad Shtayyeh: The only country that has leverage over Israel is the United States. And I don’t think that the United States is using that leverage.

The United States has to come up with a solution, have to come up with an initiative. This American administration is the only administration that does not have a peace initiative. Secretary Blinken is here, but that is not enough. It just — it’s not only when you have bloodshed, then the whole international community come to Palestine and try to calm the situation. And instead of us avoid another round of bloodshed, we need to end this conflict.

Leila Molana-Allen: In between the immediate pain and chaos of this war and the long-term political goals of a solution is the everyday lives of Palestinians living here.

Gaza has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. In the West Bank, it’s not that much better. And when Palestinian workers can work, it’s by these very limited permits given by Israel. How can young Palestinians living every day cope in the meantime?

Mohammad Shtayyeh: My main concern since I took office was to gradually disengage from this colonial dependency, create jobs for our people, rather than them working in Israel.

Palestinians have the highest university graduates in the region. Illiteracy rate in Palestine is zero. Palestinians are successful entrepreneurs, very vibrant private sector. All what they need is not to wake up in the morning and be faced with a checkpoint that does not allow their goods to move from Hebron to Gaza or from Hebron to Jerusalem.

Leila Molana-Allen: The peace process has been stalled for nearly 20 years. Not much has developed.

Everyone I speak to, the one thing they say is, out of this horror that’s happening now, there has to be afterwards a solution, some progress. Where are we in terms of the possibilities for a peace plan, for a Palestinian state with the realities on the ground?

Mohammad Shtayyeh: To be very realistic, things are extremely complicated, extremely difficult.

We are facing a situation in which two-state solution is fading away. With this Israeli government, there is no solution. So we don’t have a partner. Palestinians are eager. We are the party to benefit most from any serious peaceful negotiations. So, Israel has to face the following reality.

To kill us, they are doing that. To deport us, they are trying to do that. The only thing that Israelis are not trying is to live with us. They are not trying that. And I think, for them, not for us, the only thing that Israel should try is to make peace with us.

Leila Molana-Allen: Prime Minister Shtayyeh, thank you so much.

Mohammad Shtayyeh: Thank you.

PBS NewsHour


7:07:05 p.m. (ET)

Amna Nawaz: Last night, we brought you Leila’s interview with the Palestinian Authority prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh. Tonight, Nick Schifrin gets the perspective of a top adviser to the Israeli government.

Nick Schifrin: The Biden administration has been pressing Israel to limit Palestinian casualties, have a plan for the future of Gaza, and President Biden confirmed tonight the request of pausing Israel’s military operation in order to release hostages.

To discuss those requests and the Israeli operation, we turn to Mark Regev, senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister and a former Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom. Thank you very much, Mark Regev. Always a pleasure. Welcome back to the “NewsHour.”

As I said, this evening, President Biden confirmed he had asked Prime Minister Netanyahu for pauses in order to release hostages. The prime minister has confirmed — quote — “tactical little pauses, an hour here, an hour there.”

But are you willing to consider what the president is requesting, a more significant pause in order to release hostages?

Mark Regev, Senior Adviser to Israeli Prime Minister: Well, as you said in your question, Nick — and thank you for having me — we’re open to pauses.

We have done so in the past and we’re willing to do so in the future. Obviously, for example, we had two pairs of hostages that were released, a pair of American women and a pair of elderly Israeli women, separately. And they were released in the framework of a local and time-limited pause in operations.

We did that also to facilitate the trend, people moving out of harm’s way, Gazan civilians moving from the north to the south. We have done it to facilitate the entrance of humanitarian material into the Gaza Strip, food, medicine, water. So we have done it in the past. We can do it in the future.

Nick Schifrin: The pause to release those two hostages were to allow the ICRC to physically move them.

But this pause request is more detailed than that. Axios’ Barak Ravid is reporting the deal on the table is a three-day pause for 10 to 15 hostages, as well as a list of all 240 hostages. Can you confirm that?

Mark Regev: I’m not in a position to confirm that. I can tell you that we are willing to do — of course, for us, the number one humanitarian issue is getting hostages out. And so, of course, to do that, we will be willing to do a pause. That’s a given.

Nick Schifrin: How far are you willing to go?

Mark Regev: Well, obviously, it’s a number one priority for us. The hostages, 240 people are being held, of them, 30 children, of them, a baby 9 months old, an infant under the age of 3. It just shows you what we’re dealing with, Nick.

Who — what sort of barbarians kidnap babies? What sort of barbarians kidnap toddlers? Yes, we’re dealing with a very, very dangerous terrorist group who has no qualms whatsoever about kidnapping children. Of course, we saw how many children they killed when they invaded Israel. We’re dealing with difficult people. We hope we can get our people out. We believe the military pressure on them at the moment will facilitate and expedite release of hostages.

Nick Schifrin: You have said, that the military operation, you hope, pressures them to release hostages.

Are you also providing any carrots to Hamas to convince them to release hostages?

Mark Regev: The military pressure, we think, is what needs to be done.

There are, of course, in parallel, these talks that Qatar is conducting. Qatar has a relationship with Hamas. The Hamas leadership is — lives in Qatar. They’re hosted there by the government of Qatar. And Qatar tells the world, well, we have a relationship with these people, and that’s good for the West.

I mean, they have a relationship with people who committed the atrocities of a month ago, October 7, the massacre, people who raped, who murdered, who massacred, who burnt people alive, terrible, terrible things. Now, they are saying, the people of the government of Qatar, they say, well, this relationship serves the interests of the West.

OK, we’re waiting to see. Can you leverage your relationship to expedite the release of hostages? Let’s see. I hope they succeed. But we’re waiting to see if there are results

Nick Schifrin: And Qatar, of course, is right in the middle of that hostage negotiation, as you say.

Let me move you on to the day after the war in Gaza. Yesterday, the prime minister told ABC’s David Muir that Israel planned — quote — “indefinite security control” over Gaza.

Can you explain that? Does that include controlling any territory inside Gaza?

Mark Regev: So, we’re not talking about any sort of long-term Israeli occupation. We have no desire to rule over the people of Gaza. And we have no desire to govern the Gaza Strip.

We have to make a distinction between political control and security presence. Ultimately, we don’t want to defeat Hamas and destroy them just to see another group of terrorists come on and threaten us from the Gaza Strip again. So, I think, at least at the beginning, following this operation, to prevent resurgent terrorist groups, we will need an Israeli polit — security presence.

That doesn’t necessarily have to be static. That could be fluid. That could be going in and out, as is needed be, to deal with possible threats.

Nick Schifrin: You just…

Mark Regev: Ultimately, we want the people of Gaza to govern themselves.

Nick Schifrin: Sorry to interrupt, Mark. You just slipped and almost said political presence.

Just to confirm, you are not talking about any kind of governance offering Gaza. You are only talking about a security presence. Could that include a buffer zone?

Mark Regev: Yes, I believe there will be a buffer zone. There needs to be, after what we have been through, yes.

But I think the idea is, look, Hamas has been ruling the Gaza Strip for 16 years. They have produced nothing for the Palestinians of Gaza, nothing but pain, nothing but bloodshed, nothing but suffering, and nothing but impoverishment. Whoever comes after Hamas will be better for Israel, because our citizens in the southern part of my country will be able to live without fear of having their children butchered in the middle of the night by terrorists coming from across the frontier.

And it ultimately will be better for the people of Gaza, who deserve better than this terrorist regime that doesn’t give a hoot about the interests and the well-being of the Gazan civilian population. We see that in the way they’re acting in this conflict.

Nick Schifrin: To have that peace in Southern Israel, of course, there will have to be governance in Gaza. The U.S. has suggested that governments could be taken over by the Palestinian Authority, which currently is in charge of the West Bank.

The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority was asked by my colleague Leila Molana-Allen about this, and he said — quote — “The P.A. will not go into Gaza on an Israeli military tank” and the only way the P.A. would participate in the governance of Gaza was — quote — “as a part of a solution that deals with the question of Palestine, that deals with question of occupation.”

So will the Israeli government consider to pursue a two-state solution, if that is what the P.A. requires to take over Gaza?

Mark Regev: Well, if we were having a discussion about the P.A., we’re a month after the horrific attacks of October 7, and the P.A. has yet to condemn those attacks.

And if the P.A. wants to be considered a partner in peace, one has to ask why they refuse to condemn Hamas’ atrocities. Why can’t they condemn the rapes, the murders, the beheadings? You have seen, we have all seen the atrocities committed by Hamas. If they can’t condemn that, what sort of partner in peace are they?

Nick Schifrin: Let me move to the air campaign and the ground campaign in Gaza.

And let me show you some video over the last few days, aftermath of an attack on the Jabalia refugee camp. The target was Hamas commanders and a Hamas tunnel under that camp. And when the tunnel collapsed, an entire city block collapsed, an unknown number.

So, let me ask you, how many Gazans are you willing to kill inadvertently in order to kill Hamas’ leaders and collapse that tunnel?

Mark Regev: So, we have been calling, as you have been — reported on the “NewsHour,” for weeks now, we have been urging Palestinians in the Northern Gaza Strip to relocate south, because we knew there would be intense fighting in the north.

And we asked people, please move out of danger. We don’t want to see you caught up in the crossfire between us, between the Israel Defense Forces, and the Hamas terrorists.

And the truth is, the overwhelming majority of the population did move south. They did vote with their feet, and they exited the area. Now, Hamas tried to stop them. Hamas ordered people to stay. Hamas actually presented — created physical barriers and, at gunpoint, kept people in.

But our goal was to get most people out of the combat area to keep them safe, and most of them did leave.

Nick Schifrin: But, as you know, there are still 200 — so sorry to interrupt. Sorry to interrupt.

But there are still 200,000, 300,000 people in Northern Gaza. Do you — if Israel could kill one Hamas commander or take out one tunnel and, for example, know that 100 civilians could be killed, would you take that shot?

Mark Regev: Well, first of all, we don’t know that 100 civilians were killed, yes? Let’s be clear. We don’t know.

I saw some of those pictures from the bombing on the bomb site. They all look like men of military age. And, of course, you know that the Hamas terrorists don’t wear uniforms. And we have to understand that.

It also has to be said, all the information coming out of Gaza is supplied by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, and they’re giving out Hamas’ numbers, and they have to be taken with a grain of salt. And I even dare say that even the pictures coming out of Gaza are controlled by Hamas. We have not seen — and I challenge you, have we seen a single picture of one Hamas terrorist killed by the Israelis in our strikes? No.

They only show you pictures of civilians. So, either you can presume we’re only killing civilians, which is obviously illogical, or that Hamas is managing to control the pictures.

Nick Schifrin: But there are, of course, women and children dying. And I only have about 30 seconds, Mark. So let me just ask this question. Do you worry that Israel is creating a new generation of Palestinians who will join Hamas or whatever comes after with these bombings, or do you worry that these bombings will create more pressure on your campaign before it’s finally over, before you can get your goals completed?

Mark Regev: Nick, I hope that, at the end of this operation, first of all, that Hamas will be gone. And they will be gone. We will succeed in doing that.

But I think we will have discredited the sort of extremism, the sort of fanaticism and the sort of barbarism that Hamas has shown. Palestinians need to understand that Hamas is a dead end. Hamas only promises a future of blood and suffering, while the past — path of cooperation, the path of negotiation, the path of living with Israel in peace, that offers so much more.

Nick Schifrin: Yes.

Mark Regev: And the Arab world has opened up to Israel over the last few years in ways like never before.

Nick Schifrin: Yes.

Mark Regev: We have seen new relationships formed with countries across the Gulf.

As you know, just before this crisis, there was talk of Israel and Saudi Arabia normalizing ties. It’s time the Palestinians also joined the circle of peace.

Nick Schifrin: All right, we will have to finish it there. Mark Regev, senior adviser to the prime minister of Israel, thank you very much.

Mark Regev: Thanks for having me.

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