Chris McGreal lies about Israeli building freeze


Chris McGreal’s latest Guardian report is illustrated with a photo recycled from five days ago, in David Wearing’s one-state proposition, ‘A two-state solution is the practical route for Israel and Palestine‘, but, oddly, the photo was used by the Guardian at least as far back as 2007.

Chris McGreal, who has proven himself hostile to Israel, it’s prime minister, and Jewish supporters of the state, published the following post-election analysis, Obama’s in-tray – Israel/Palestine, Nov. 7.

(The caption for the photo, which has little to do with McGreals’s report, curiously uses language evoking the Guardian’s narrative on the ‘Palestine Papers’ series, which contextualized thousands of documents in a manner suggesting that Palestinians were too week and conciliatory during negotiations with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert in 2008.)

McGreal, whose characterization of the US President’s in a previous report, as engaging in slavish” support for Israelwas deemed inappropriate, and arguably antisemitic, by Guardian editors, and removed, argues in his Nov. 7 report that a newly re-elected President Obama likely has more leverage over Israel’s Prime Minister on the Palestinian issue.

However, McGreal makes a claim during the course of his report that is simply a lie, when he writes the following:

“Obama sought to pressure the Israeli prime minister to halt Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, at their first meeting in the spring of 2009. Netanyahu not only resisted but humiliated the president by publicly lecturing him about Jewish history.”

However, Bibi’s 10-month freeze on new construction in the West Bank, declared in Nov. 2009, was reported by the Guardian (here, here  and here).

Bibi did resist Obama’s request to extend the freeze another 10 months, but reading McGreal’s report you’d think that Bibi resisted and didn’t in fact implement the original freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank.

McGreal’s report is extremely misleading and we’d recommend contacting McGreal and the Guardian’s readers’ editor  to seek a correction.

Here’s McGreal’s Twitter account: https://twitter.com/ChrisMcGreal

Here’s the email address for Chris Elliott, the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor: reader@guardian.co.uk

32 comments on “Chris McGreal lies about Israeli building freeze

  1. Not surprising. The man is almost incapable of writing the truth about Israel. If he said the sun rises in the East I would take a compass and go outside to check.

        • Nat,
          Are you saying that Israel didn’t comply with the terms of this 10 month voluntary construction freeze?

        • It was absolutely crystal clear from the beginning of the freeze that it did not apply to houses whose foundations were already laid, and also to Jerusalem. Peace Now are being disingenuous to put it politely.

          • There was a freeze, the Palestininas broke the ceasefire, Abbas refused negotiations and since then Nats is on the war path of the nuts.

      • So what? The freeze ended after 10 months and Israel began building again. Kudos to them for not wasting time and for making up lost time – time which should never have had to to be frozen in the first place.

        If the Palestinians were so keen on the freeze they should have come to the negotiating table during those 10 months. But they didn’t. They just whined that they wanted another 10 months. Too bad. They lost.

        • So your solution is to continue settlement building and thereby make the notion of an independent Palestinian state unviable?

          • My personal solution is irrelevant. I was purely commenting on Peace Now’s whine – as quoted by Nat – that Israel refused to extend the building freeze. Israel was asked for, and acceded to, a 10 month freeze. When it was over Israel resumed building.

            End of.

          • @ anneinpt
            Kudos to them for not wasting time and for making up lost time – time which should never have had to to be frozen in the first place.

            I’ll take that as a yes.

            End of … Too bad. They lost.

            What kind of arrogant crap is that? Learn your English from MTV, did ya?

          • Anne, are you aware that Israeli settlements are a violation of international humanitarian law, freeze or no freeze?

          • Fritz, Israeli settlements are in violation of article 49, paragraph 6 of the 4th Geneva Convention.

            The International Court of Justice, the ICRC and several resolutions of the UN Securoity Council confirmed that settlements are illegal.

          • The PLA is no signing part of the Geneva Conventions, and the status of the late Jordanian territory is disputed.
            Therefore you should bring something forward which can be applied.

          • Fritz, Israel did sign the Geneva Conventions.

            Israeli settlements are in violation of article 49 (6) of the 4th Geneva Convention. Article 49 (6 ) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits a state from transferring parts of its own civilian population to territory it occupies, does not merely prohibit the occupying state from forcefully transferring parts of its population; it also prohibits any action by the occupier which facilitates such transfer.

            The International Court of Justice, the ICRC and several resolutions of the UN Securoity Council confirmed that settlements are illegal.

            Last week, ICRC officially confirmed that Israeli settlements are illegal:

            http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/the-levy-report-vs-international-law-1.474129

        • Replying to Nat @3:37 a.m.:

          There was no ‘freeze’ since settlers continued building in the settlements during these ten months.

          You seem to have no reading comprehension skills. Read my comment from 3.54 pm. There most definitely WAS a building freeze. I can attest to that personally from my family’s bitter experience.

          • Reply to Nat @2.38 a.m.

            are you aware that Israeli settlements are a violation of international humanitarian law, freeze or no freeze?

            No, they are not a violation of international humanitarian law. Firstly, show me chapter and verse. Secondly, you can’t since there is no such thing as a code of international humanitarian law. The settlements are legal since the land never belonged to a sovereign entity when they were liberated in 1967 from illegal Jordanian occupation. Before 1948 the lands were administered by the British Mandate who held them in trust for a JEWISH (not Arab, not Palestinian) homeland. Before the Mandate they were held by the Ottoman Empire. Before them, I think it may have been the Seleucids. Or the Crusaders. My history is a bit hazy from there on. Go back to the Roman Empire who stole the land from the Jews.

            I refer you to the legality of the settlements.

            I also refer you to the details of the San Remo Convention on the Palestine Mandate..

            Now stop repeating yourself and spouting nonsense and lies.

          • Reply to Pretzelberg @6:53 pm

            You can take my comment any way you wish. My personal feelings – and yours – are irrelevant in this situation.

            As for my English, it is called “colloquial”. Not arrogant. Not MTV. Why the ad hominem? Does my English bother you? I’ll try French next time.

          • Anne, Israeli settlements are in violation of article 49 (6) of the 4th Geneva Convention. Article 49 (6 ) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits a state from transferring parts of its own civilian population to territory it occupies, does not merely prohibit the occupying state from forcefully transferring parts of its population; it also prohibits any action by the occupier which facilitates such transfer.

            The International Court of Justice, the ICRC and several resolutions of the UN Securoity Council confirmed that settlements are illegal.

            Last week, ICRC officially confirmed that Israeli settlements are illegal:

            http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/the-levy-report-vs-international-law-1.474129

          • Reply to Nat @ 5:56 a.m.

            Anne, Israeli settlements are in violation of article 49 (6) of the 4th Geneva Convention. Article 49 (6 ) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits a state from transferring parts of its own civilian population to territory it occupies, does not merely prohibit the occupying state from forcefully transferring parts of its population; it also prohibits any action by the occupier which facilitates such transfer.

            The International Court of Justice, the ICRC and several resolutions of the UN Securoity Council confirmed that settlements are illegal.

            Last week, ICRC officially confirmed that Israeli settlements are illegal:

            No Nat, the settlements are not illegal, no matter if you turn blue in the face from your effort to claim that they are. It’s irrelevant what the ICRC says. They have no standing in the matter. The Haaretz article does not state from whom Israel seized the land. They make no mention of the fact that THERE WAS NO SOVEREIGN OWNER OF THE LAND (please excuse my capitals. You are exceedingly irritating and obtusely and wilfully ignorant and blind). Israel captured or liberated the land from AN ILLEGAL OCCUPIER AKA JORDAN. The land was destined to be Israeli territory. Jordan had no right to be there between 1948-1967.

            There are no UN resolutions claiming the settlements are illegal. There are plenty who wish it were so, but wishing does not make it fact.

            Now read up these links, and stop bothering me and those who are tired of your nonsense.

            http://jcpa.org/brief/brief2-16.htm

            The settlements are not located in “occupied territory.” The last binding international legal instrument which divided the territory in the region of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza was the League of Nations Mandate, which explicitly recognized the right of Jewish settlement in all territory allocated to the Jewish national home in the context of the British Mandate. These rights under the British Mandate were preserved by the successor organization to the League of Nations, the United Nations, under Article 49 of the UN Charter.

            The West Bank and Gaza are disputed, not occupied, with both Israel and the Palestinians exercising legitimate historical claims. There was no Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza Strip prior to 1967. Jews have a deep historic and emotional attachment to the land and, as their legal claims are at least equal to those of Palestinians, it is natural for Jews to build homes in communities in these areas, just as Palestinians build in theirs.

            The territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was captured by Israel in a defensive war, which is a legal means to acquire territory under international law. In fact, Israel’s seizing the land in 1967 was the only legal acquisition of the territory this century: the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank from 1947 to 1967, by contrast, had been the result of an offensive war in 1948 and was never recognized by the international community, including the Arab states, with the exception of Great Britain and Pakistan.

            The Settlements are Consistent with Resolution 242

            Many observers incorrectly assume that UN Security Council Resolution 242 requires a full Israeli withdrawal from the land Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Some may have a hidden agenda aimed at depriving Israel of any legal rights whatsoever in the disputed areas. In either case, they use this misinterpretation to conclude that settlement activity is unlawful because it perpetuates an “illegal” Israeli occupation.

            The assumption and the conclusion are deeply flawed. Resolution 242 calls for only an undefined withdrawal from a portion of the land — and only to the extent required by “secure and recognized boundaries.” Israel has already withdrawn from the majority of the land it had captured, and nearly all of the areas in which it retains communities are essential to “secure and recognized boundaries.” The specific location of Israeli settlements was determined by Israel’s Ministry of Defense over the last 30 years, not by the settlers themselves, and they were set up in order to strengthen Israel’s presence in those few areas from which it cannot, militarily, afford to withdraw.

            Settlements are Consistent with the Geneva Conventions

            In three recent emergency special sessions of the UN General Assembly, Israeli settlement was cited as a violation of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. These international humanitarian instruments, forged in the ashes of the Holocaust to prevent future genocidal brutality and oppression, were never invoked in 50 years until the case of condominium construction in Jerusalem during 1998. Was such construction — any settlement construction — a violation of the Geneva Convention?

            No. The relevant clause, Article 49, prohibits the “occupying power” from transferring population into the “occupied territory.” Aside from the fact that the territory is not occupied, but disputed, Morris Abrams, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, had pointed out that the clause refers to the forcible transfer of large populations. By contrast, the settlements involve the voluntary movement of civilians. The U.S. Department of State, accordingly, does not view Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention as applicable to settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. For that reason, the official U.S. position has been over the years that settlements are legal, even though successive administrations have criticized them on political grounds. (Only the Carter administration for a short time held that settlements were illegal; this position was overturned by the Reagan administration.)

            Read the whole thing.

            Read also:

            http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=10&x_article=1331

            and

            http://www.aish.com/jw/me/48939282.html

          • Anne thinks that Israeli settlements are legal.

            The International Court of Justice, the ICRC, the reconvened Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, several resolutions of the UN Security Council and all governments in the world (except Israel) consider Israeli settlements to be in violation of international humanitarian law.

            Anne, you’re in minority.

  2. Read the article and then the comments. The fact that the article was CiF wishful thinking about all the terrible things that Israel has coming to it was not unusual, but the fact that the majority of the comments called out CM for screwing with the facts and faking the photo, while others pointed out that the Palestinians have no interest in a two-state deal and have made that clear to President Obama…that was a nice surprise. Oh, and one of the CiF posters stupidly used the factually-discredited Gideon Levy Haaretz poll to haul out his “apartheid” line. Poor asshole, he really thought he had something there.
    Having said that, I do think that relations between Obama and Netanyahu are poor and likely to stay that way (not because of the PM’s support for Romney, they were already cold for multiple separate reasons) and if the Israeli Left hadn’t killed itself with most of the electorate via their failures and lying about them, or if Hamas was savvy enough to play pretend peace like Fatah was, we could have seen a repeat of the Clinton-Netantyahu disaster of 1996-98. I don’t think things will play out that way enough to satisfy the CiF regulars led by CM–or the aforementioned poodle DWearing–but problems between Washington and Jerusalem? Yeah, they’ll be some. They’ll also be manageable.

  3. Why is Israel continuining to build settlements in the West Bank? For security reasons? Because they have some right to do so?

    • Those are good, legitimate questions Pretz. The answers to them are legitimate but also track with different factors in Israeli society. Religious parties in the state feel that Israel should control ‘Eretz Yisrael’ and see building in those areas as a return to land promised by G-d. Security and defense forces do not seek to settle the entire West Bank but believe that the 1967 borders are indefensible and that some major settlements that are close to Israel’s current configuration would be part of land swaps in a final peace deal with Palestinians. And from a legal standpoint, the fact that the West Bank was never an independent nation, and springs in fact from Transjordan’s early-20th century creation (which binds it legally more to present-day Jordan than Israel, as the case is stated) makes for a strong argument that building housing in the West Bank is not illegal, not to mention that giving up that argument to anti-Israel advocates would lead to the West Bank model of illegal settlements being applied to Jerusalem and eventually the entire state of Israel. It seems that a majority of Israelis, citizens and political groups, would withdraw from almost all (or even 100%) of the West Bank if it enacted the two-state solution for good and ended the state of war between Israel and its neighbors. It also doesn’t seem like the Palestinians want that kind of deal (whether that is a right-now or an always-been lack of interest is unclear) so in the absence of a prospect for a peaceful end to conflict, settlement building on the West Bank is going to continue. I always thought that Israel would annex the small % of the WB that has almost all of the Israeli residents on it if no peace agreement was possible, withdraw from security areas and declare a full divorce from Palestinians if the alternative was Israel’s replacement with a state of Palestine.

    • “a minor success with a “clarification” or “correction on the “clarification” to the slander that a few Israeli settlers use more water than all the Palestinians put together”

      Your success is indeed minor. The corrected version reads:
      “In the Jordan Valley, an estimated 9,000 settlers in Israeli agricultural settlements use one-quarter the total amount of water consumed by the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank, some 2.5 million people,”

      That works out at each settler using over 800 times as much water as each Palestinian. This is truly a scandalous situation; I’m grateful to you for drawing it to our attention.

      • 2.5 million divided by 9000 x 4 = 69.4. where did you get “800 times” from?

        The Pals could solve their economic problems if they abandoned the racist hate war against Jews which you and your fellow travellers are obliging them them to fight.

        • Your sums are right, zeitgoose, while mine were wrong. The message remains the same, however; a factor of almost 70 is still a scandal.

  4. Pingback: ‘Articles of Faith’: The absence of critical thinking about Israeli settlements | IsraelSeen.com

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