UKMW prompts correction relating to this question: How many settlements are in the West Bank?

Whatever one’s views on Israeli construction across the green line, the narrative often advanced in the UK media – of new settlements expanding at ‘a record pace’, eating away at ‘huge swaths’ of Palestinian territory and rendering a future Palestinian state nearly impossible – is, at best, extraordinarily misleading.

Let’s test your knowledge on Israeli settlements. Which of the following represents the total number of settlements, including illegal outposts, in the West Bank?

[polldaddy poll=9645544]
 

First, before we give the answer, here are a few related facts which fly in the face of much of what’s reported in the British media on the issue of settlements:

  • The pace of settlement home construction has actually slowed somewhat since 2009, in comparison to previous years.
  • Israel hasn’t constructed a new settlement in approximately two decades.  
  • Though the media often suggests (by the volume and sensational nature of their settlement stories) that new settlements are constructed all the time, what they’re typically alluding to are new homes within existing settlement boundaries.
  • There’s widespread agreement that most major settlement blocs (which represents the overwhelming majority of construction across the green line) will almost certainly remain part of Israel in any future peace deal.   

The map below represents the peace offer made by Ehud Olmert in 2008, a territorial compromise which by most accounts, is – broadly speaking – similar to the likely outcome of any such final agreement. Note that most of the blue area (which Israel would annex) represents major settlement blocs.

Map representing Ehud Olmert's offer to Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.
Map representing Ehud Olmert’s offer to Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.

Now for the answer to our quiz:

There are in fact 228 settlements in the West Bank – 131 settlements plus 97 illegal outposts (not including “east” Jerusalem)

settlement-graph
Graphic from Peace Now.

Keep this in mind when you see our tweet to the Times of London over an article yesterday (Jan. 23) written by Gregg Carlstrom:

Following our tweet, we emailed Times of London editors, expressing our concerns with the headline, which falsely suggests that Israel was constructing new settlements.  They upheld our complaint and amended the headline to note that new “settlement homes” (within existing settlements) were to be constructed, not new settlements.
new-times-headline-correction
Revised Times of London headline.

Whatever one’s views on Israeli construction across the green line, the narrative often advanced in the UK media – of  new settlements expanding at ‘a record pace’, eating away at ‘huge swaths’ of Palestinian territory and rendering a future Palestinian state nearly impossible – is, at best, extraordinarily misleading.

 
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