Sunday, October 18, 2009

A study in deceit, part II

In part I of "A study in deceit", we demonstrated the fallacy of Reuters assertion in the opening moments of its video that, "the building of new Jewish homes in the West Bank has long been a stumbling block to peace". In the very next line of her report, Helen Long suggests:

Palestinian leaders say there can be no resumption of talks until Israel stops building on occupied land. Something successive Israeli governments have refused to do.

Almost too swift and artful to notice, Long goes directly from paraphrasing Palestinian leaders in the first sentence to adopting their narrative as fact in the second sentence. The problem being of course, that the characterization of land in the West Bank as "occupied" is at best, tendentious, and the assertion that successive Israeli governments have refused to stop building in these areas is simply false.

On the first point, the formal legal definition of "occupied territory" with respect to sovereign rights and responsibilities is drawn from the Geneva Conventions which apply solely to land won in war with a sovereign state -- not territory which, as in the case of the remnant of the Palestine Mandate, has yet to be allocated to any nation.

Moreover, as we demonstrated in our post "Misplaced Authority", the UN-adopted Mandate for Palestine (still formally in effect) does not prohibit -- indeed, actually encourages -- Jewish settlement in all areas of the original Mandate including what is today commonly referred to as the West Bank.

Finally, while the Palestinian Authority has decreed death to anyone selling land or homes in the West Bank to Jews, a significant proportion of land where Jews have settled has in fact, been purchased from private (Arab) owners. Apparently, Reuters considers this too, "occupied" land.

On the second point regarding Israel's alleged intransigence on settlements, Reuters ignores periods when Israel either unilaterally dismantled settlements (as in Gaza under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon), temporarily froze settlement-building (as in 1978 under a previous Likud government) or offered to dismantle settlements (as in 2000 under Ehud Barak). None of these concessions brought peace to Israel.

Part III to follow.

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