Three facts the Guardian didn’t reveal in their report on Jerusalem ‘settlements’.

In an article which seems largely based on an announcement by the Israeli NGO Peace Now, the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont informed readers that Israel is moving forward on plans to build 1800 new settlement homes in “East Jerusalem”.  (“East Jerusalem” is not a geographical term, but signifies parts of the city controlled by Jordan between 1948 and 1967, where Jews were forbidden from living.)

Here are some excerpts from the July 3rd report.  

Israel is pushing forward with controversial plans to build 1,800 new settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem in the largest proposed surge in construction in recent years.

The construction plans include proposals for Jewish buildings, such as an eight-story yeshiva, in Sheikh Jarrah, which Palestinians regard as being at the very heart of East Jerusalem.

Beaumont’s penultimate paragraph uncritically quotes Peace Now accusing the Israeli government of trying to destroy the two-state solution.

“The government is brutally attempting to destroy the possibility of the two-state solution, and this time it is by establishing a new settlement at the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem and promoting nearly 1,800 housing units beyond the Green Line,” they said in a statement”.

However, Beaumont failed to reveal several important facts about the proposed Jerusalem construction:

  1. An overwhelming majority of the proposed new construction is planned in existing Jewish neighborhoods, such as Pisgat Zeev, Gilo and Ramot.
  2. An overwhelming majority of the proposed new construction is in Jewish neighborhoods that Palestinians have already conceded, during previous negotiations, will remain under Israeli control in a future peace deal. (Notable exceptions include 15 housing units planned for Har Homa, 13 housing units in Sheikh Jarah and a yeshiva and office building in Sheikh Jarah.) 
  3. The official announcement from the Jerusalem Municipality – which, presumably, Beaumont also received – noted that the new proposed construction would also include 114 new Palestinian homes in Jerusalem.

Here’s the table published by Peace Now.

Note also that the strap line for the piece falsely claims that all 1,800 housing units would be built in the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood:

These errors and omissions represent a pattern by Beaumont, in which he fails to distinguish between homes built within existing Jerusalem neighborhoods and West Bank settlements (which would almost certainly become part of Israel in a peace deal) and those built on land Palestinians claim as part of their future state.  Settlement construction within the former category can not fairly be characterised as an ‘impediment to peace’ – representing another example of vital context on the conflict that the Guardian fails to provide. 

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