Economist corrects article alleging ’40 year US policy’ that settlements are “illegal”

Editors upheld our complaint after we provided evidence demonstrating that 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.

We recently posted about a correction we prompted to a Financial Times editorial falsely claiming that the new US decision that Israeli settlements are NOT illegal contradicts four decades of US policy which deemed them illegal. 

Editors upheld our complaint after we demonstrated that 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 are illegal – have characterised them as politically “illegitimate”, or an obstacle to peace, without taking a position on their legality.

We also noticed the same error in a Nov 21st article at The Economist, and filed a complaint, which, we learned this morning, was similarly upheld by editors.

Here’s the original language:

For over four decades, [the illegality of the settlements] has been the view even of Israel’s allies, including most American administrations (with the exception of Ronald Reagan’s, cited by Mr Pompeo)

Here’s the corrected version:

Despite some dissenting views, the international consensus for decades has been that the settlements Israel has built in the territories it captured in its war with Arab states in 1967 are indeed illegal.

We’ve also filed complaints with the Guardian and Daily Mail, who both made the same error, but haven’t yet heard back from editors at either publication.

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