AFP, Al Hurra Correct Erroneous Arabic Reports on East Jerusalem

On May 29, CAMERA Arabic prompted both Agence France Presse’s Arabic service and U.S. government Arabic broadcaster Al Hurra to correct erroneous references to 1967 east Jerusalem as “the Palestinian portion of the city.” AFP’s report that day, entitled “Jerusalem’s ‘flag march’ raises fears of a new escalations between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” originally read:

Israeli security forces were intensely spread in east Jerusalem on Sunday in order to accompany the annually organized “flag march,” in the anniversary of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian portion of the city, raising concerns of new tensions. [Emphasis added. All translations by CAMERA Arabic].

Notably, AFP’s English edition correctly referred to the territory as “east Jerusalem.”Al Hurra’s website published AFP’s article along with the erroneous reference to eastern Jerusalem.

Temple Mount, eastern Jerusalem on a stormy day, 2021 (Photo by Akiva Sternthal)

However, east Jerusalem was not the “Palestinian portion” of the city at in 1967. From 1948 to 1967, it was illegally occupied by Jordan. Before that, just like the western part of the city, east Jerusalem was part of British Mandatory Palestine. The Nov. 29, 1947 partition plan had called for Jerusalem to be a corpus separatum, an international city administered by the United Nations for 10 years, at which point the city’s status was to be decided in a referendum. Before the British Mandate, the city was under Ottoman control, and so on. Going back through history, at no point was east Jerusalem “the Palestinian portion of the city.”Furthermore, until Israel gained control of east Jerusalem in 1967, even the PLO – charged by the Arab League in 1964 with the task of mobilizing Palestinian Arabs to “liberate their homeland” and practice “self determination” – did not consider east Jerusalem as part of Palestinian “regional sovereignty.” Article 24 of its 1964 Charter clearly stipulates:

This Organization does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or the Himmah Area. Its activities will be on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political and financial fields.

In fact, at the time, the PLO sought to exert Palestinian sovereignty only over western Jerusalem, together with the rest of internationally recognized territory of Israel (see also here.)Following communication with CAMERA Arabic, both AFP (syndicated here by Swissinfo.ch) and Al Hurra replaced the word “Palestinian” with the word “eastern.” Al Hurra also commendably added an editorial note reading: “This news item was updated in order to amend several terms in the introduction to the report.”The error still appears in versions of the same paragraph published by BBC Arabic and France24 Arabic.See also a nearly identical AP correction from 2018 here.