Fox Corrects on Settlement Construction, Occupation Legality

CAMERA’s Israel office yesterday prompted two substantive corrections on a Fox News article concerning Israel and the West Bank. The Oct. 27 article, “Biden admin criticizes reported Israeli settlement expansion in West Bank,” had originally opened with the erroneous assertion that Israel announced plans to build 1,300 new settlements in the West Bank. The article errs:

President Biden’s State Department on Tuesday said it was “concerned” about reports of Israel’s intent to build more than 1,300 new settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

A view of Ariel, West Bank (Photo by Salonmor/Wikimedia)

In fact, the reports, and the State Department’s statement, concern 1,300 new homes within pre-existing and well-established settlements. Spokesman Ned Price had said, and his words appear in the article:
In addition, we’re concerned about the publication of tenders on Sunday for 1,300 settlement units, for – 1,300 settlement units in a number of West Bank settlements.
Indeed, the subheadline of the Fox article in question got it right: “Israel reportedly is looking to develop 1,300 new homes in the West Bank.”
Second, the article erroneously reports that the West Bank “has been under ‘illegal occupation’ since the 1967 Six-Day War, according to the United Nations.” In fact, the United Nations does not consider Israel’s occupation of the West Bank “illegal.”

While the UN has made clear that any Israeli annexation of the West Bank would be “inadmissible,” and has also labeled Israeli settlements “illegal,” none of its post-war resolutions — General Assembly resolutions 2252, 2253, 2254, and 2256, and Security Council resolutions 236, 240, and 242 — argued that the capture of the West Bank from Jordan and subsequent occupation was unlawful.

The drafters of Security Council Resolution 242, which called for an Israeli withdrawal from unspecified “territories occupied in the recent conflict,” have repeatedly clarified that their resolution calls for any Israeli withdrawal to be to “secure and recognized boundaries” negotiated in peace talks between the parties to the war, and do not regard theoccupationas illegal:  “Until that condition is met, Israel is entitled to administer the territories it captured– the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip – and then withdraw from some but not necessarily all of the land,” explained Eugene Rostow, one of the resolution’s drafters and an Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in President Johnson’s administration.

AFP corrected the identical error earlier this year, as did Bloomberg in 2019.The New York Times twice corrected after similarly misreporting that the international community considers the Israeli occupation illegal.

In response to communication from CAMERA yesterday, Fox News promptly corrected both points. Editors changed the erroneous reference to “1,300 new settlements” to “1,300 new homes.” In addition, the false statement that the West Bank “has been under ‘illegal occupation’ since the 1967 Six-Day War, according to the United Nations” no longer appears in the article.
In contravention of the common journalistic practice demonstrating transparency, editors did not append a note alerting readers to the change.