Guardian falsely claims that most new Israeli immigrants move to the West Bank

A recent edition of The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) published their weekly top 20 photographs, which included this image of a new Israeli immigrant being greeted outside the old airport terminal by a cheering crowd:

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The photographer is Oliver Weiken of EPA.  Here’s the Observer caption:

An Israeli immigrant from the US is cheered by a crowd after her arrival at the Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv. New immigrants predominantly move to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a key negotiation point in potential new peace talks between Israel and Palestine

So, a photo depicting a joyous occasion for a new arrival to the Jewish state was contextualized by the editor to suggest that since such immigrants disproportionately become “settlers”, they can be seen as injurious to the peace process.   

However, contrary to the claim made in the caption, most new immigrants do NOT move to “settlements” in the West Bank. As statistics over the last several years published by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics indicate, the most popular destinations are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, with a small minority going to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

In 2012 there were 16,557 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 664 moved to the West Bank.

In 2011 there 16,892 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 540 moved to the West Bank.

In 2010, there were 16,663 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 666 moved to the West Bank.  

In 2009, there were 14,572 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 675 moved to the West Bank.

So, over this four-year period, out of 64,684 new Israeli immigrants (Olim), 2,545 (about 4%) decided to move to communities across the green line – a figure which corresponds (roughly) with the total percentage of all Israeli citizens who live in the “settlements”.

The claim made in the Observer photo captions is false, and we will be seeking a correction.

(UPDATE: CiF Watch obtained a correction to this photo caption on August 6.)

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