Financial Times Jerusalem correspondent James Shotter could have prevented disinformation about Palestinian building permits in east Jerusalem in his report (“Demolitions of Palestinian homes gather pace under new Israeli government”, March 16) by merely fact-checking the Palestinian claims.
Instead, he failed to scrutinise the following:
Activists estimate that more than 20,000 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967, have been built without a permit. Israeli law allows such buildings to be destroyed. But Palestinians say the process of obtaining a permit is almost impossible.
“They don’t want us here,” said Rateb Matar, whose house in the Jabal Mukaber neighbourhood, where he lived with his wife, Azhar, and nine relatives, was destroyed this year. “They’re trying to suffocate us. They try to make it very difficult, almost impossible [to get a permit].”
In fact, according to data reported by Associated Press (AP) in 2019, based on a report by the Israeli anti-settlement organisation Peace Now, between 1991 – 2018, Palestinians received 30% of all the total number of building permits issued in east Jerusalem.
So, its clearly inaccurate to claim that such permits are “almost impossible” for Palestinians to obtain.
Moreover, even the complaint, echoed by AP at the time of their report, that that Palestinians receiving 30% of the total number of permits issued demonstrates discrimination, as Palestinians make up 60% of east Jerusalem’s population, is extremely misleading.
As our colleague Gilead Ini noted, without the figures for the number of permit requests from Israelis and Palestinians, which haven’t been reported, numbers or percentages for granted Palestinian permits by themselves cannot shed light on the question of discrimination.
As CAMERA reported in the past, the difference in permit requests across Jerusalem has indeed correlated with the difference in permits issued by the city.
Shotter, in failing to do due diligence in the face of claims that it’s “nearly impossible” for Palestinians to receive building permits in east Jerusalem, thus putatively justifying illegal Palestinian construction, egregiously mislead Financial Times readers on the much publicised, buy widely misunderstood, issue of construction in the holy city.