Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just the facts?

Following our post yesterday and right on cue, Reuters updates its "FACTBOX" on Israeli settlements. Let's see how Reuters views the "facts":

"Some 300,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlements Israel has built in the West Bank, and another 200,000 live in Arab East Jerusalem..."

There's that historically inaccurate and racially-loaded sop to Arab aggression again.  Jews living in their historic birthplace -- where they have had a presence for 3,000 years -- are "settlers".  Got that?

"Abbas cites a 2003 U.S. and European-backed peace "road map" that calls for a stop to settlement building alongside parallel steps by the Palestinians to curb violence against Israel."

Reuters again willfully and woefully misrepresents the obligations of the Palestinian Arabs as we discuss here.

"Benjamin Netanyahu, a right-wing prime minister who took office in March backed by a coalition of pro-settler parties who want Israel to keep much of the West Bank under any peace deal."

We see; Netanyahu is "right-wing" while PA president Mahmoud Abbas is "moderate".  And let's not forget that Netanyahu's coalition also includes the "left-wing" Labour Party led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak who offered the equivalent of 97% of the West Bank to Yasser Arafat nine years ago at Camp David.  For Reuters, a trifling detail unworthy of mention.

"The World Court deems settlements as illegal under international law, including the Geneva Conventions, a ruling Israel disputes."

Er, as we pointed out yesterday, the World Court has no binding authority to decide whether Jewish settlements are illegal and its advisory opinion was just that: an advisory opinion. Perhaps that's why Israel disputes it.

"The United States and European Union have commonly viewed the settlements as obstacles to peace and urged their cessation."

Then why haven't they submitted the matter for a vote in the UN Security Council? This is the $64,000 question which neither Reuters nor any of the other Palestinian advocacy groups wish to address. If Jewish settlements in the disputed territories are "illegal" why not simply put the question before the UNSC and vote to effectively reverse the terms of the Mandate for Palestine?

The answer of course, is that to reverse a cornerstone of international law like the Mandate for Palestine would be to open a Pandora's box of other legal campaigns and establish a precedent for overturning other UN resolutions -- including those that created modern Syria and Lebanon, for example. We're not certain the Syrians, the Lebanese, the US or Europe would relish this prospect.

Better to leave international law as it stands and simply bring intense political pressure to bear on the Jews to surrender their rights.

"Netanyahu insists the settlements are not the "heart" of the conflict, and wants Palestinians to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state before they may achieve statehood."

Given all of the above, one might think Reuters and its readership would see the logic of Netanyahu's position.

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