On January 22, NBC published an article on its website, “Trump, Netanyahu Have ‘Very Warm’ Conversation, Don’t Discuss Embassy Move.” The article omits some key facts about Jerusalem as well as about the recently announced issuance of housing permits, furthering the Palestinian narrative of Israeli settlements taking over Palestinian land in Jerusalem.
After listing the topics that President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed in their telephone call (“Iran, the Palestinian peace process and the prime minister’s desire to ‘forge a common vision to advance peace and security in the region,’” but not the possible move of the US embassy to Jerusalem) reporter Tim Stelloh tells us,
The phone call came hours after Netanyahu delayed a vote on a proposal to annex a large settlement in Palestinian territory, The Associated Press reported, and on the same day that city officials issued building permits for 566 new homes in east Jerusalem, a section of the city that Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.
In one run-on sentence, the writer managed to distort the facts in three different ways.
First, NBC omits that when Jerusalem city officials issued building permits on Sunday, they issued permits for homes located in both Jewish and Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem. The total number of homes approved was 671, and not, as Stelloh reported, 566. The text of the Jerusalem municipality’s announcement read, in part,
Today (Sunday), the Local Building and Planning Committee in Jerusalem approved the construction of 671 housing units in various neighborhoods whose approval had been delayed for several weeks: 324 units in Ramot, 174 units in Ramat Shlomo, 68 units in Pisgat Ze’ev, 49 units in Beit Hanina, 14 units in Wadi Joz, 24 units in Umm Lison and Umm Tuba, 7 units Jabel Mukaber, 4 units in Beit Safafa, 3 units in Sur Baher and 4 units in A-Tur.
Second, Ma’ale Adumim, the Jerusalem suburb that is the subject of the now-shelved annexation proposal, is not in “Palestinian territory.” It is in disputed territory – that is, on land to which two different groups lay claim. As CAMERA’s Gilead Ini wrote recently in The Tower, when journalists refer to this area as “Palestinian land,” they are, in effect, appointing themselves the arbiters of a complicated international dispute. In discussing the New York Times’ use of the same term for the West Bank, he wrote,
In insisting that settlements are “on Palestinian territory,” something the Times has done several times this year, the newspaper is not reporting. It is endorsing. It is treating as an undeniable truth political claims by one side while rejecting as fallacious those by the other side—notwithstanding the objective fact that there is indeed an unresolved dispute over the status of these territories and the location of a future border.
While some journalists may now respond that UN Security Council Resolution 2334 designates the area “Palestinian land,” and that their terminology is therefore valid, this is not the case. As CAMERA’s Alex Safian has written, UNSC Resolution 2334 “does not change the legal landscape,” and is not enforceable, because it was passed under Chapter 6 not Chapter 7, of the UN Charter. Moreover, it has also been argued that UNSC Resolution 2334 is itself in violation of Article 80 of the UN Charter, and therefore invalid under international law. Article 80 affirms Jewish rights under the 1922 League of Nations Mandate to settle in any part of what was then the British Mandate for Palestine, including all of Jerusalem as well as what is today called the West Bank.
Finally, Stelloh repeats that “Palestinians see” eastern Jerusalem “as the capital of their future state,” but ignores the fact that the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem is tenuous at best. While there may be a religious connection between Islam and Jerusalem, there is no historical or legal basis for a specifically Palestinian claim on Jerusalem. In the city’s 3000-year history, it has never been under Palestinian sovereignty. The Israeli claim to Jerusalem, in contrast, rests on international law as well as archeological evidence of historical Jewish sovereignty over the city.
NBC’s selective omissions present a distorted view of the issues surrounding Jerusalem, and fail to provide readers with the necessary context to understand the issuance of building permits in Israel’s capital.