Sunday, November 1, 2009

Obama backs off settlement freeze demand; Reuters redoubles its efforts to advance Arab interests

Reuters correspondents have been pounding the table over Jewish settlements for years, particularly so in their reporting since President Obama made a settlement freeze a cornerstone of his Middle East policy. Yesterday, after months of arm-twisting which has failed to bow Israel and similarly failing to persuade the Arab states to proffer any good-faith gestures toward Israel, Obama and his Secretary of State apparently reconsidered their absolutist demand for a complete halt to settlement activity.

Reuters reacts by misstating Israel's position and mischaracterizing the status of Jerusalem:

Hillary Clinton turned U.S. pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday when she endorsed Israel's view that its expansion of settlements on occupied land should not be a bar to resuming peace talks.

Actually, Israel has committed to not expand settlements; i.e., to limit construction to homes already approved.

A spokesman for Abbas, who faces intense domestic pressure from Hamas Islamists who say he is selling out, insisted that he would not resume suspended negotiations as long as Israel went on building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Note how Reuters' Quinn and Macdonald deliberately conflate the West Bank (also Judea and Samaria) and Jerusalem, characterizing the two as "occupied". The reality of course, is very different. Here's what Arthur J. Goldberg, US representative to the United Nations in 1967 and framer of UN Resolution 242 (ending the Arab-Israeli war) told the New York Times in 1980:

Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem, and this omission was deliberate. I wanted to make clear that Jerusalem was a discrete matter, not linked to the West Bank.

In a number of speeches at the U.N. in 1967, I repeatedly stated that the armistice lines fixed after 1948 were intended to be temporary. This, of course, was particularly true of Jerusalem. At no time in these many speeches did I refer to East Jerusalem as occupied territory.

But Reuters correspondents know better.

Quinn and Macdonald continue with their fabrications:

Six decades after Israel was established in 1948, four [decades] since it occupied the remaining Arab lands of what was British-ruled Palestine and nearly 20 years since the first glimmerings of a peace process, a final agreement on core conflicts over borders, refugees and control of Jerusalem remains stubbornly elusive.

Uh-huh. "Arab lands". By whose edict? The disposition of British-ruled Palestine was governed by the Mandate for Palestine which, as we have previously noted called for:

...close settlement by Jews, on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

78% of original Palestine -- what is today Jordan -- was lopped off and handed to the Arabs by Britain; the remainder was to serve as a national home for the Jews. In other words, the remaining 22% of the Palestine Mandate represents not "Arab lands" but, by international accord, Jewish lands.

Wake up call for Reuters: that the Palestinian Arab population not residing in Jordan (70% of the population in Jordan is Palestinian) has repeatedly been offered -- and violently refused -- a share of the land with the Jews, does not make it theirs.


  1. Israel itself contributes to the problem by calling everything "settlements" - like the apartment building being made out of the old police station. Bought & paid for, completely legal, & yet Obama called it a "settlement" - & Israel didn't tell him to kiss off!


  2. Iron Chef Kosher

    Agreed. The word "settlement" itself has undergone a metamorphosis from a neutral term describing Jewish rights in the Mandate, "close settlement of the land", to a politically-charged obscenity used to cudgel Israel.