Chris McGreal vs. Harriet Sherwood on Israel’s 2009 settlement construction freeze

mcgreal and sherwood

As we reported on Nov. 8, Chris McGreal’s post-election analysis, Obama’s in-tray – Israel/Palestine, Nov. 7, included this passage:

“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.” [emphasis on all quotes are added]

McGreal’s latest post, ‘International criminal court is a lever for Palestinians on Israeli settlements, Dec. 15, repeats the historical revisionism suggesting that Israel did not in fact implement a temporary settlement freeze.

“An ICC ruling in favour of the Palestinians might have another effect. 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.”  

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, declared in Nov. 2009, was reported by the Guardian (and through wire services on their site) as an uncontroversial fact.

Tellingly, Harriet Sherwood, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, has also unambiguously reported Israel’s 10-month freeze in reports continually over the past few years.

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.

And Settlement Watch, an Israeli organisation, said that preparations are being made for a massive construction boom this autumn on the assumption the moratorium will be lifted.

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, inIsraeli 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.”

So, which Guardian reporter is correct?

Was there a settlement freeze, or did Netanyahu resist Obama’s request for the temporary halt in construction across the green line?

Of course, the fact that it’s difficult to find a reporter other than McGreal, working for the Guardian or any other paper, who has argued that Israel didn’t in fact agree to a construction freeze would seem to vindicate Sherwood.

As I’ve noted previously, Chris McGreal is perfectly entitled to dislike Israel and take the side of the Palestinians.  However, as a professional journalist, he is not free to lie or misrepresent the facts to suit his ideological agenda.

98 replies »

  1. Oh no Adam, you’re probably causing Harriet nightmares on the unwitting support that she is giving Israel.

    • Someone at ‘CIF Watch’ did not read Ms Sherwood’s articles properly. She does write that Netanyahu implemented a PARTIAL freeze – the freeze promised by Mr Netanyahu was only partially implemented.

      Israeli NGO ‘Peace Now’ revealed that eight months into the freeze, at least 600 housing units had started to be built , in over 60 different settlements, and that at least 492 of those housing units were in direct violation of the law of the so-called “freeze”.

  2. McGreal has a deeper problem with Israel /Jews than even ex-SWP member Sherwood has. I think the repeated term ‘humiliation’ could provide an insight.

    • McGreal is questionably more intelligent than chickenlady, and therefore perhaps more dangerous, if he were not so one-track-minded.

  3. I’m no fan of Sherwood, but she has grown in the job, whereas McGreal, ex-stevedore, remains firmly fixed in the world of alehouse versions of history.

    Sherwood is slowly beginning to grasp the realities of Israel. I think those rockets that could have killed her have concentrated her mind. Probably by the time she really gets it they will have to replace her with someone like Bella Mackie to refresh the anti-Israel bias.

    McGreal gave up any pretense of being a professional journalist long ago. He is nothing more than a paid hack writing on behalf of the Palestinians.

  4. Well I guess if if a neanderthal ex night club bouncer can be nine tenths of the way to being Prime Minister of Israel an ex stevedore can be a journalist.

    • RichardDarmbach

      You really can’t compare a Neanderthal, even if he took a job as a night club bouncer, with a stevedore whose level of prejudice remains at the ”fixed” level. After all, the Neanderthals were known to have a considerably larger cranial capacity and therefore greater intelligence than Homo less Sapiens.

      Improve your general knowledge even if your manners remain deplorable. Read about Neaderthals at

      • Would that be the ex-bouncer who favours ethnically cleansing the entire space of ‘Greater Israel’.( of arabs)
        The one who recently resigned to spend more time with his family.!

        • Being a bouncer is an honest job. Let us instead talk of that ex-KGB agent who refuses to have members of a certain religion in ”his” state or to grant citizenship to those of his own people who have waited for 64 years to be repatriated. You know, the one who has two official versions of how he left Tsfat, both narrated by him without turning a hair, since lying comes so naturally to him.

      • Would that be the ex-bouncer who favours ethnically cleansing the entire space of ‘Greater Israel’.( of arabs)
        As possession is nine tenths of the law,that means that Lieberman should be Prime Minister.

      • No. It’s not cranial capacity that determines intelligence it’s what is in it. Look at me, I have a much smaller cranial capacity than most but I’m a freaking genius.

    • Lieberman when he was a student worked in a nightclub as a bouncer as hundreds of other Israeli youngsters whose family is not rich enough to finance their studies do. Naturally for Armbach’s kind of snobbish nobodies who never would dirty their hands with any hard menial or blue-collar not to say menial works in night shifts this means that he’s a neanderthal.
      Welcome in the world of the champagne socialists and salon generals!
      I prefer an ex-bouncer Neanderthal as a minister than a condescending rich asshole
      who is fighting for the workers’ rights and feels only scorn for the real workers.

      • Especially when the ex-bouncer is corrupt and relishes sticking the boot into those African immigrants, eh corporal?

        • Do you mean to say that a member (ex) of the Israeli cabinet is a racist? That’s quite shocking given that Israel is such a beacon of democracy and tolerance. Presumably that explains why he was sacked. Well done Mr Netanyahu!


          • He was sacked exactly because Israel is a beacon of democracy and tolerance, snottyville. And that’s what causes your hemorrhoids to explode.

            • He wasn’t pushed,he walked ,presumably to safeguard his pension arrangements. Interesting to speculate whether he would have gone without the indictment. Israeli cabinet members don’t get sacked for racism.


          • Well, many blog commenters aren’t banned from being anti-Semites (ergo, racists). It’s a riddle for ya, snottyville.

            Now, do you have proof that Lieberman is racist?

            • All these demands.Too many riddles. Mr Lieberman has displayed his racist views both verbally and in writing on numerous occasions. I’m glad to see that you agree that antisemitism  equates with racism.


          • Lieberman is a racist? Not like Rowan “fuck the Jews” Laxton serving in a high position in the Foreign Office…

            • I’m glad to see that you recognise a connection between antisemitism and racism.So both Lieberman and Laxton ( assuming he did say that )are racists.So by the same token Mr Laxton should also resign.


          • but spratty, you are much more racist than him, you really want to kill the Jews. Do you still have a job, or has everyone wrote you off by now?

          • “Israeli cabinet members don’t get sacked for racism.”

            Palestinian (and other Arab) officials get awards for racism, and the undying love of their people for it, snotty.

  5. Do I detect a chip on the shoulder?
    You can’t really address the argument with insults.
    Lieberman should be castigated for his racist views and his military posturing regarding Iran in particular.
    The fact that he was bouncer is neither here nor there.
    Some of my best friends were bouncers!

      • Still talking in riddles. People shouldn’t be sneered at because of their previous employment. The comments clearly displayed a level of snobbery that we don’t like. Lieberman should be judged on his words and deeds.


    • Of course this Matthew Thayer person is so well aware of the truth of what is happening in Iran that he can label Liberman’s reactions ‘military posturing’. He for instance knows that the Iranían Chief of Staff Fierazabadi is just teasing when he tells Fars news that “The Iranian nation is standing for its cause and that is the full annihilation of Israel,”

      I have no illusions about any politician, even those who were educated at Eton and can open a champagne bottle with aplomb, but the threat to Israel from Iran is only amusing to those devoted to Israel’s destruction.

    • Ahem…. are you on record as castigating Abu Bluff, various Hamastards, Ahmedinajad and Nasrallah for their racist views, Thayer?

      Can you give links to where you have?

      What’s that?

      No.. thought not.

    • The truth hurts .Therefore every time Chris McGreal puts pen to paper a chorus of wailing and gnashing of teeth erupts in the blogosphere of Apologia. Incidentally,the expression is ‘bent as a ten bob note’.


      • Spratty, why aren’t you bothered by the killing of Palesitinians in Syria yesterday? Oh, sorry, it wasn’t by the JEWS!

        • I’m surprised to see you haven’t congratulated Assad for trying to emulate Israel in this respect. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that sanctions should be applied to try stop the carnage in Syria. However,by the same token,surely its time to apply sanctions to Israel to stop the killing in Gaza and the West bank.


            • Are you working for Assad? He needs to sit on the naughty step with Bibi and a few others and in the meantime let the sanctions do their work. I don’t want to wage war on anyone!Where on earth did you get that idea? As for the Syrian rebels,if they win their struggle I think they will have their work cut out just to put the country back on it’s feet.If ever!


          • The arch enemy of Israel emulates Israel, sprattyville is an intelligent being and the world is flat.

            • What are you going to do when sanctions bite and you can’t get parts for your computer? What are you going to do when IDF war-criminals end up in court to answer for their crimes? Try to answer these questions in fewer than 300 words.


          • Hmmmm. Out-of-control slaughter, as compared to narrow-focus highly restrained, damage-control operations. Clearly, it’s exactly the same thing, and ought to be dealt with in exactly the same way.

            Or not. I’ll do you the courtesy of assuming you’re just too stupid and caught up in your own fantasies to realize how unbelievably trivializing and delusional it sounds to equate the situation in Syria with the one in Gaza, let alone the West Bank.

          • What are you going to do when sanctions bite and you can’t get parts for your computer?
            Snotty this is your best question. Some of the hardware and most of the software of your PC are made in Israel .

            • Not when the sanctions bite. Besides they don’t make ZX81’s anymore. If I were you I’d make a list of your favourite imported goods and then start stockpiling them in the shed. What is the Hungarian word for asshole?


            • I didn’t know you cared! They pray for you every day. And for Israel! My friend the Imam also gives you a mention every Friday!


          • You should change your PC from a ZX81 to a Commodore 64.
            Do you really think that the success of Israeli high-tech is in the mass production of obsolete PCs? Maybe you should ask your Hamas paymasters about the Iron Dome system…But don’t call them with your mobile phone, it consists of a lot of software developed here. Regarding the widening of your Hungarian vocabulary – ask your friends in the neo-Nazi Jobbik party – you will be happy to discover that you and them have exactly the same opinion on Israel and the Jews.

            • I’m sure they are desperate to see Muslims take over the world just like any other group calling itself Islamophobic. They also have very warm feelings for Roma and Africans.  Of course the inhabitants of South Tel Aviv display similar sympathies with Sudanese and Eritrean  asylum-seekers.


          • Oh, thanks, snotty. I wonder how many imaginary friends you have, one of each religion and ethnicity, like a multicultural fantasy.

      • Nothing bent about a ten bob note – I own several:

        Now, bent as a two pound note is something else.

      • Is that why you are incapable (a) of hearing it and (b) and knowing it, sprat?

        D’you think that Lieberman is as bent as a box of bedsprings, at least as much so as the various ignominious Palestinian leaders, eg Arafat and your pet Hamas low lives?

  6. McGreal’s respect for the facts is close to zero. He’s the man who falsely reported that top footballers Didier Drogba, Yohanne Cabaye and Edin Hazard had signed an anti-Israel petition.

    So it’s no surprise to find him lying about the settlement freeze.

    • Is it time to revisit the “Code of Conduct” (note, not “ethics”) of the (more honoured in the breach than in the observance and particularly by Al-Guardian’s “journalists” of the National Union of Journalists?

      NUJ Code of Conduct

      The NUJ’s Code of Conduct has set out the main principles of British and Irish journalism since 1936. The code is part of the rules and all journalists joining the union must sign that they will strive to adhere to the it.

      Members of the National Union of Journalists are expected to abide by the following professional principles:
      A journalist:
      1 At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed (so far so good)
      2 Strives to ensure that information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and fair
      (Oops! How many lies have McGreal, Shameless Milne and others told?)
      3 Does her/his utmost to correct harmful inaccuracies (that’s a joke at al-Guardian, and I give you the “Jenin Massacre” as an example)
      4 Differentiates between fact and opinion (Where? When? Seriously can anyone send a link to where any of the usual suspects have actually done this?)
      5 Obtains material by honest, straightforward and open means, with the exception of investigations that are both overwhelmingly in the public interest and which involve evidence that cannot be obtained by straightforward means (Given the lack of morals of this lot, I would question the “honest, straightforward and open means”)
      6 Does nothing to intrude into anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest (except when they’re “poor Palestinians” and their dead, set up specially for a photoshoot by Hamas)
      7 Protects the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work
      8 Resists threats or any other inducements to influence, distort or suppress information and takes no unfair personal advantage of information gained in the course of her/his duties before the information is public knowledge (well, people, we know that al-Guardian doesn’t need to be threatened to distort or suppress information – it’s very adept at doing all that off its own bat)
      9 Produces no material likely to lead to hatred or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age, gender, race, colour, creed, legal status, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation ( What??? Oh dear… one look at the comments below the line and some of the bilge above it, particularly that written by McGreal, Shameless Milne and sundry Islamist terrorists and those who support them. Comment is Free and the Guardian DEPEND upon producing such rotting offal for the challenged and hate-filled, who probably get off on it, in order to survive)
      10 Does not by way of statement, voice or appearance endorse by advertisement any commercial product or service save for the promotion of her/his own work or of the medium by which she/he is employed
      11 A journalist shall normally seek the consent of an appropriate adult when interviewing or photographing a child for a story about her/his welfare
      12 Avoids plagiarism (But produces syndicated stories which tie in with al-Guardian’s world view and spread the various Big Lies without any attempt to research or find out background)
      The NUJ believes a journalist has the right to refuse an assignment or be identified as the author of editorial that would break the letter or spirit of the code. I would bet money I don’t have that none of the hacks on CiF have ever done that. I doubt that any of them know anything about the “spirit of the code” either )
      The NUJ will fully support any journalist disciplined for asserting her/his right to act according to the code (But note, it hasn’t acted and probably won’t act against any member who persistently acts to bring journalism into disrepute)

      • PS: In my internet searches, I also found at link to the Society of Professional Journalists, which is American, see but the real deal is the fourth draft of the European Code of Journalism, at, interesting because its creators want it to apply to bloggers. Notable in it is:

        a) never publishes information known to be inaccurate;
        b) quotes unconfirmed reports, rumours or assumptions as such;
        c) distinguishes between facts and opinions and between editorial and commercial content;
        d) checks information in words and images to ensure accuracy;
        e) does not omit or distort essential information from content, headlines, images or captions;
        f) gives the subjects of articles the right to reply;
        g) quickly corrects assertions, especially those of a personal nature, if found to be incorrect;
        h) identifies and links to sources wherever possible;
        i) invites dialogue over the content of articles;
        j) does not take financial advantage from unpublished financial data nor gives such data to other persons

        Al-Guardian persistently fails on (a); (b) again I give you the alleged Jenin massacre; (c); (d); (e); sometimes/often at (f), or at least has to have its arm twisted to afford that right of reply; (g); (i) – “Comment is Free” is a parody of its title;

        So what have we left? (h) and CiF has only done this comparatively recently; and (j)!

        Not very good is it?

        (See also

  7. I like the moral indignation of these Anglo Jew-haters posting here especially knowing that while Lieberman resigned due to the judicial process against him, the parliamentarians in their own country who used to steal even the horseshit and the crystal bowls from the British taxpayers are happily continue to serve.

    • It’s a shame you have to keep bashing on about Jew-haters ( presumably you mean myself ). The only Jew-haters in this country tend to be members of far-right groups who also hate Muslims,Irish,Africans:- the usual suspects. You should know who your friends are. Most of the MP’s caught with their snouts in the trough are or have been members of Parliamentary ‘Friends of Israel’ groups. Some of these cases are still emerging from the woodwork.It’s nice to know you care.


      • “The only Jew-haters in this country tend to be members of far-right groups who also hate Muslims,Irish,Africans:- the usual suspects. ”

        Right. And sprattyville is a river in Egypt.

      • Most of the MP’s caught with their snouts in the trough are or have been members of Parliamentary ‘Friends of Israel’ groups.
        Naturally this is a lie. The most laughable case was your brother in Jew-hating Gerald Kaufmann a huge fan of Hamas. Do you get money from them too?

        • Have you been back to Hungary lately? I have a friend who is alarmed by the antisemitism on the streets of Budapest. So much so that she has emigrated to London. She knows some real Jew-haters.


          • Were you only a little bit less ignorant than maybe you could know that you are spitting here exactly the same anti-Semitic tropes what you can hear from the Hungarian neo-nazi Jobbik party. And FYI I have a Hungarian friend who after a 30 year long carrier at a very famous British university left the UK for Zurich alarmed by the antisemitism of the British academic establishment. If I should choose between the UK and Hungary, my choice would be Budapest – it is much more secure for Jews even now than the foggy Albion. Luckily there is no need to hesitate between the two thanks to the existence of a secure homeland for Jews where I’ve been living.

            • Your ignorance of Hungary is breath-taking that of Britain understandable. We don’t have people on the street applauding when the IDF ‘takes out’ a family in Gaza with a ‘surgical strike’ that happens to be ‘mistake’. Still ,war crimes don’t go unpunished for ever. Witness Bosnia. What will you have to say when sanctions are imposed on Israel for it’s crimes? How will you feel to see Barak sitting in the Court at the Hague?The world will be a better place.


          • How will you feel to see Barak sitting in the Court at the Hague?
            I won’t feel anything because it will happen only after your kind of Jew-haters could be considered worth of being human – means never.
            The world will be a better place.
            Exactly what Goebbels said about a world without Jews. You should use quotation marks
            when you quote your master’s golden words.
            Your ignorance of Hungary is breath-taking …
            Then please explain to me what happens there…

      • Do you love Jews, Snotty, the weak, spineless, dhimmified Jews, rather than those who call you out every time you post sewage here?

        You see, I believe (note the verb and that I cannot take it as fact unlike the tenpenny hacks at your favourite rag twist their opinions and beliefs and present them as facts to fools like you) that anyone who has such an obsessive animus against Israel has to have at least a portion of that animus towards the Jews who run it.

        That sort of hatred, being mindless, has a nasty habit of spilling over, and attaching itself to all Jews, although I’d bet you’d rather slit your own throat than admit it.

        Of course, the challenged like you, who inflict these views on others also try to hide their true beliefs by professing to want a Palestinian state, but like the Palestinians with whom they are codependent they do not want to state build or to encourage state building, but merely want to obliterate, however they might dress it up.

        • Quite a mouthful! Where to begin? You seem to have a curious view of dhimmified jews. Presumably your refering to jews living in Ottoman Palestine prior to the first world war. Or is this a term you reserve for Jews opposed to the policies of Israel? I’m not so sure how weak and spineless they were. What I do know is that they had a much better understanding with their Arab contemporaries than that which exists today. Why only the other day at a demonstration I was talking to an elderly Rabbi ( born in Jerusalem) who described the very close and amicable relations with his Muslim neighbours. They shared meals,baby-sitting and even wet-nurses!They celebrated each other’s festivals. It is quite appalling that you should sneer at such people and then go on to accuse me on the basis of opposition to the actions of a military power. I can give you the names of scores of Rabbis equally opposed to the actions of Israel. Does that make them weak and spineless?


          • Who cares about your “Rabbi friends”, snottyville? We know that you are a pathetic fraudster. Point is that you and your ilk just can’t stand the fact that Jews have their state now and, most of all, are able to defend themselves. Too bad, you’ll have to live with your hemorrhoids.

          • “Presumably your refering to jews living in Ottoman Palestine prior to the first world war. ”
            Got a map of that country?

            • Do you roast your chestnuts? Palestine refers to a PLACE not a series of lines drawn on a map by cartographers working out of London and Paris.


  8. McGreal’s opening line speaks volumes about his bias:

    When Israel’s routine hostility toward Gaza once again flared into full-on battle last month …