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

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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8 replies »

  1. I want to see the precise legal arguments deployed to show that an occupying power can’t legally build settlements in occupied territories, although I think the occupying power has to be willing to eventually dismantle the settlements, if they are indeed encroaching on lands to which there is a clear title. But not until there is a comprehensive peace settlement, or at least, a settlement of contending claims about that territory — i.e., maybe there could be a settlement that covers the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, but not Gaza.

    • It goes MUCH further than that. ‘International law’ is not a thing. See the post by AKUS, but plenty more can be said about this Goebbelsian fabrication.

  2. There is not the slightest reason to call the settlements “illegal” This is a myth cooked up at the UN as part of another myth, “international law”.

    Just as an example – one of many – is Britain’s refusal to abide by a very recent UN demand that they return (give away, really) the Chagos Island to Mauritius (whose claim for a few Islands 1,100 miles away is more than dubious):

    The UN had given the U.K. six months to hand control of the Chagos Islands — an archipelago in the central Indian Ocean — back to Mauritius, but this deadline has now passed. The government of Mauritius has previously accused Britain of being an “illegal colonial occupier” in the Chagos Archipelago.

    In 1810, the British captured the Ile de France and renamed it Mauritius. By the Treaty of Paris of 30 May 1814, France ceded the Ile de France and all its dependencies (including the Chagos Archipelago) to the United Kingdom.

    Britain refuses (gulp! Gosh! Shock! Horror!) to end its occupation of the Chagos despite the UN telling the Brits that their “colonial occupation” (sound familiar?) is illegal under “international law”. Some money has been used to pay for five group heritage visits, in which 76 exiled Chagossians (victims of the Chagossian nakba orchestrated by Britain in 1971) have been allowed back to visit ancestral graves and spend up to a week on the archipelago.
    (However, the UK and Mauritius agreed in 1972 that there were 426 Ilois families numbering 1,151 individuals[21] who left the Chagos for Mauritius voluntarily or involuntarily between 1965 and 1973 (during the Chagossian nakba).)