February 21, 2011
Truth takes a beating in Wash. Post coverage of settlements
In its Feb. 21 edition, the Washington Post features an article by Jerusalem correspondent Joel Greenberg that propagates a whopper of a lie about Israel supposedly continuing to build settlements in the West Bank and seizing more land for this purpose ("Palestinians rally against U.S. veto -- Draft U.N. resolution condemned Isrel's settlement policy," page A7).
Here's how Greenberg puts it: "Palestinian leaders have rejected further negotiations with Israel as long as it continues to build settlements in the West Bank, arguing that such an activity amounts to a seizure of territory they seek for a future state."
Except that Israel hasn't continued to build settlements during Prime Minister Netanyahu's tenure and during that of his predecessor, Ehud Olmert. Greenberg notwithstanding, the Israeli government has not seized land for settlements during the last several years. Nor has Israel allowed existing settlements to expand geographically. Nor has there been any seizure of land for such purposes.
The only issue -- and even this is a very thin one -- is Israel's official policy that it will not freeze construction within existing settlements. But even there, it turns out that the government isn't issuing permits for construction in Jewish communities in the West Bank, leading mayors of places like Maale Adumim and Ariel to complain that a de facto construction freeze replaced an official 10-month freeze that expired last September.
The official freeze was supposed to entice Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to come to the negotiating table. It didn't work. Abbas let the first nine months of the freeze go by and showed up at the end only to issue new demands for a permanent freeze as a pre-condition for negotiations.
Thus, the notion propagated by Greenberg and the Washington Post that Israel "continues to build settlements" and engages in "seizure of territory (sought) for a future Palestinian state" is completely bogus.
Bottom line: Israel is not building settlements or expanding existing ones. And even within existing ones, there appears to be a de facto construction freeze.
Just because Palestinian leaders say otherwise doesn't make it so. It would be more enlightening if the Post reported what is actually happening -- and not happening -- instead of taking at face value myths purveyed by Palestinian propaganda.