CNBC has corrected a factual error about the legality of Israel’s administration of the West Bank. The correction was prompted by CAMERA’s correspondence with CNBC editors.
On July 21, Shepard Smith wrongly claimed that the “UN Security Council has said the Israeli occupation is a ‘flagrant violation’ under international law.” After CAMERA informed journalists that the Security Council has made no such determination, and cited expert opinion that occupations are not illegal, CNBC acknowledged the error and posted a correction on Twitter. It stated:
On last week’s OTM about Ben & Jerry’s and Israel, we described the UN Security Council as having said the Israeli occupation is a “flagrant violation under International law.”
For clarity, the UNSC said settlement activity is, not occupation.
We regret the miscommunication. pic.twitter.com/dhmGYZ1Gwk
— The News with Shepard Smith (@thenewsoncnbc) July 28, 2021
As we’ve previously noted, legal scholars, including critics of Israel, have made clear occupations are not illegal:
Nicholas Kristof was correct when stating several years ago in The New York Times that “many international legal scholars suggest that Israel’s occupation of the territories is not itself illegal.” One such scholar, George P. Fletcher, the Cardozo Professor of Jurisprudence at Columbia University School of Law, also writing in The New York Times, asserted that “it is not illegal for victorious powers to occupy hostile territory seized in the course of war until they are able to negotiate a successful peace treaty with their former enemies.”
Noam Lubell, formerly of B’tselem and currently a professor and Head of School at the University Essex School of Law, put it as follows in his BBC-commissioned report on international law in the Arab-Israeli conflict: “The term ‘unlawful occupation’ can be a misguided and confusing term, as it conflates the question of the resort to force with the rules of conduct, and obscures the distinction between the two.”
After critically exploring, and then rebutting, various arguments floated in favor of calling the occupation illegal, Lubell concluded that “the term ‘unlawful occupation’ is not a helpful term, and while there may be reasoning for using it – particularly on account of the link to denial of self-determination – this term is highly debatable.” A couple of paragraphs earlier, Lubell quoted Alain Pellet, who Lubell calls “a notable expert on international law” and who, like Lubell, is a sharp critic of Israel, saying: “Even if the deprivation of its right to self-determination infringes an imperative norm of international law, occupation remains a legal institution, governed by the rules of law.”
We commend CNBC for its forthright correction.