AP’s Ban On the Truth About Palestinians Entering Jerusalem

What do you, the news consumer, understand the following to mean?

Palestinians with West Bank identity cards* are banned from entering Jerusalem at all because of Israeli security restrictions.

(* Note: As opposed to Palestinians with Israeli identity cards.)

A) No Palestinians whatsoever with West Bank identity cards are permitted entry under any circumstances into Jerusalem.

B) Hundreds of Palestinians enter Jerusalem on a regular basis, only they require a permit to do so. At one time, though, they didn’t require a permit, and since they now do, a ban is in place.

If you chose “A,” and are totally confused by “B”–congratulations. This was not a trick question and you understood the AP quote according to the common meaning of the words “banned” and “at all.”

In contrast, the Associated Press claims a different reading of the words, along the lines of option “B.” One week ago today, the sentence in question, written by AP’s Mark Lavie, was distributed to newspapers around the world (“The Israeli Cabinet affirms plan for barrier around Jerusalem”).

CAMERA fact-checked the allegation with the Civil Administration, the Israeli governmental body responsible for Palestinians entering the country, and learned that Lavie’s claim, if you understand it like most people would, is incorrect. According to Adam Avidan, the administration’s spokesperson, Palestinians with West Bank identity cards routinely get permits to enter Israel, including Jerusalem, for work, study, and personal needs such as weddings and funerals. In addition, Palestinians from areas surrounding Jerusalem, including Ramallah, every day make use of Jerusalem hospitals such as St. John’s or Hadassah Ein Kerem. At any given moment, thousands of Palestinians have such a permit allowing entry to Israel, and the permits make no distinction between Jerusalem or any other city. (Palestinians with Israeli identity cards don’t require a permit. They may come and go as they please.) Also, on a daily basis, the Civil Administration “is dealing with” hundreds of requests for permits from Palestinians who want to enter Israel, including Jerusalem. According to Avidan, most of the requests are approved.

For Palestinian communities in the so-called “Jerusalem envelope”–north, east, and south of Jerusalem–there are 550 valid permits in use at any time, which allow Palestinians to enter Jerusalem where they may be employed in churches, as journalists, and a variety of other professions. Avidan noted that since the beginning of 2005, the Civil Administration has granted 2,044 permits for Palestinian residents of the Jerusalem envelope to enter Israel, including Jerusalem.

In response to CAMERA’s request for a correction stating that there is no “ban” on entering Jerusalem for Palestinians with West Bank identity cards, and in fact, they routinely enter the city, the AP responded:

As we see it, the principle is this: In years past there was no ban and Palestinians could enter at will. Now there’s a ban, so if they want to come in they must ask for special permission. Our portrayal of the issue, in our view, does not require a correction.

And, thus, a correction on this clearcut error has been banned (in the simple understanding of the word, that is.)

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