Guardian revives lie about Israel’s 2009 settlement freeze

Cohav Hashachar

Back in 2012, we posted about a Guardian report by Chris McGreal (Obama’s in-tray – Israel/Palestine, Nov. 7) which included the following claim:

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 2009Netanyahu not only resisted but humiliated the president by publicly lecturing him about Jewish history.”

As we noted in our post, McGreal continued with his narrative about Israel putatively resisting pressure from the US president to initiate a settlement freeze in an article he wrote the following month, (‘International criminal court is a lever for Palestinians on Israeli settlements‘, Dec. 15), which included this:

When Obama first came to power four years ago, he attempted to strong-arm Netanyahu into taking an agreement with the Palestinians seriously. The president began by demanding a total freeze on settlement construction. The Israeli prime minister outmanoeuvred and humiliated Obama, and carried on as before.”  

As we demonstrated at the time, not only is it untrue that “Netanyahu “resisted” Obama’s request, but, in fact, the 10-month Israeli freeze on new construction in the West Bank, which began in Dec. 2009, had been reported by other Guardian journalists as the fact that it was.

Here’s Sherwood on Nov. 9, 2010, in ‘Israeli plan to build hundreds of homes in West Bank settlement risks US anger‘:

“The Ariel and East Jerusalem proposals came six weeks after the end of a 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction.”

Here’s Sherwood, on July 5, 2010, reporting on US pressure to extend the 10-month freeze on settlement construction, titled ‘US to press Binyamin Netanyahu to extend freeze on settlements‘:

The 10-month moratorium, which excludes building in East Jerusalem, is due to end at around the same time as the four-month period set for proximity talks comes to an end…The freeze, which began last November, was wrung out of Netanyahu by the White House after months of negotiation and against the opposition of the prime minister’s rightwing coalition partners.”

Here’s Sherwood on Nov. 10, 2010, in ‘Israeli settlement plan sparks international outrage‘:

“The Ariel and East Jerusalem proposals come six weeks after the end of the 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction.”

Here’s Sherwood, on March 13, 2011, reporting on the Israeli response to the murder of five members of a Jewish family in Itamar, in ‘Israel to expand settlements after family killing‘:

 “Israel is to build hundreds of homes in West Bank settlements in response to the murder of five members of a Jewish settler family…The homes are to be built in the large settlement blocks which Israel expects to keep under any peace agreement with the Palestinians. It is the biggest tranche of construction announced since the end of the settlement freeze almost six months ago.”

Here’s Sherwood on July 26, 2012, in ‘Population of Jewish settlements in West Bank up 15,000 in a year‘:

A 10-month partial freeze on settlement expansion came to an end almost two years ago, since when there have been no meaningful talks.”

Here’s a passage in a report by Sherwood on Oct. 22, 2012, in ‘Israel’s cranes reprove Barack Obama’s failure to pursue two-state solution‘.

“On the Israeli side, Obama said the US did not accept the legitimacy of Jewish settlements. “It is time for these settlements to stop,” he said bluntly.There followed protracted negotiations between the US and Israeli governments which resulted, in November 2009, in Netanyahu reluctantly acceding to a temporary construction freeze in West Bank settlements.”

Here’s Sherwood on Oct. 30, 2012, in ‘EU urged to re-think trade deals with Israeli settlements in West Bank‘:

“Settlement growth has accelerated in the past two years, since the end of the temporary construction freeze brokered by the US.”

We complained at the time to Guardian editors, but they refused to correct.

Flash forward eleven years: Same outlet. Same journalist – in an article (“Biden’s response to Israel’s far-right government: avoid confrontation”, Jan. 11, 2023) which includes the following:

Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to the Palestinian leadership on negotiations with Israel, agreed that Biden has no stomach for a fight in part because of President Obama’s humiliating retreat after he tried to force a settlement construction freeze on Netanyahu in 2009.

The article he links to is from September 2009, and reports on how the US Mid-East Envoy failed, at the time, to get Israel to agree to a settlement freeze – which is meaningless, as the freeze was ultimately approved two months later and implemented by Israel’s government in December that year.

Haaeretz, Nov. 25, 2009

The fact that McGreal is still trying to sell readers on his revisionist history of the freeze would come as absolutely no surprise to anyone familiar with the reporter’s pattern of peddling misinformation in service of his visceral hostility to the Jewish state.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Grimey

    Cannot The Grauniad see that anyone or any organisation that disputes the right of Israeli people to build houses and live in Judea and Samaria is obviously and indisputedly guilty of apartheid. Simples !

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