Whilst this blog takes no position on the legality of Israeli communities across the green line, we do take a strident stand on holding British media outlets accountable to the accuracy clause of the UK Editors’ Code of Practice. So, over the past several days, we’ve pushed back against multiple outlets – including the Guardian, Independent, Economist, Telegraph and Financial Times – that have misrepresented longstanding US policy on settlements in the context of reports on the new US decision that they’re not illegal.
As we noted in a recent post, these outlets have erred in claiming that the new US position breaks with “four decades” of US policy, which, they assert, deemed Jewish communities in the West Bank “illegal”.
This is not true, as between the late 1970s and 2016, there was not one President or Secretary of State who labeled the settlements “illegal”. Rather, most – other than Ronald Reagan, who explicitly rejected the view that they were illegal – have characterised them as politically “illegitimate”, or an obstacle to peace, without taking a position on their legal status.
Regardless of one's view about the legality of settlements, it's specious for journalists to cite a '78 State Department view to give the false impression the US position has until now been that they are illegal, while ignoring the president in '81 saying they are "not illegal."
— Gilead Ini (@GileadIni) November 18, 2019
One of the outlets we complained to was the Financial Times, which published an editorial (Donald Trump is killing hopes for Middle East peace, Nov. 20) that included the claim that “By declaring that the US no longer views Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as illegal, Mr Pompeo has…overturned 40 years of US policy“.
Our complaint to editors was quickly upheld, and the new language now only narrowly asserts that “Mr Pompeo has…marked a shift in longstanding US policy that deemed them an obstacle to peace“.
- Political advocacy journalism distorts coverage of US policy on settlements (CAMERA)
- Reviewing 3 BBC reports on the US statement on settlements (BBC Watch)
- Guardian falsely asserts ’40 year US position’ that settlements are “illegal” (UK Media Watch)