Correcting Errors about New Settlements on CNN

There seems to be confusion among some journalists about what constitutes an Israeli “settlement.” They mistakenly talk of the Israeli government’s “announcements” about, “approvals” for, or “push” to build “new settlements,” with the connotation of encroachment and an enlarging footprint.

But, in fact, Israel has not established any new settlements in nearly two decades. Nor has it announced, approved or pushed for the construction of thousands of new settlements in the disputed territories.  What they have announced are approvals for building additional residential units within the boundaries of existing settlements and the intention to locate land to establish a single new settlement.

CAMERA has elicited many corrections on this error from media outlets such as the New York Times (see here and here), Wall Street Journal (see here), the Christian Science Monitor (see here), the BBC (see here),  the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (see here), and NPR (see here), among others.

The confusion about settlements was exacerbated by comments from Ben Rhodes, former President Obama’s deputy national security advisor when he was interviewed on PBS. Rhodes, who once famously boasted of his ability to create an “echo chamber” to generate sympathetic media coverage for the president’s controversial Iran policy, now misled  the audience as well as the interviewer, Judy Woodruff, by falsely asserting that  “these settlements are encroaching further and further beyond the separation barrier that the Israelis themselves built, thousands of new settlements are being constructed and, frankly, if these trends continue, it will be impossible to realize a two-state solution.” (Newshour, PBS, Dec. 23, 2016)

More recently, Becky Anderson of CNN’s Connect the World (and CNN’s Abu Dhabi bureau chief) erred when she introduced a report by Middle East correspondent Oren Liebermann by referring to the approval of new housing units in existing settlements. She said:

The settlers are being removed the day after the Israeli government announced thousands of new settlements in other parts of the West Bank.  (Connect the World, CNN, Feb. 1, 2016)

Although  the correspondent himself made no mention of “new settlements” in his report, we nevertheless alerted Ms. Anderson to her error in the introduction.

The following day, Ms. Anderson, on the same program, made it clear that no new settlements had been established in nearly two decades. Regarding Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s appointment of a committee to locate land for a  new settlement, she correctly pointed out that “for the first time in almost two decades, Israel planning to build a new settlement in the West Bank.”

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