Yesterday, Israel approved the building of 900 homes in Jerusalem, a move opposed by the United States, and incorrectly reported by some media outlets which misreported Gilo’s location. For instance, the International Herald Tribune ran the following brief today on Page 4:
Whether you call it a settlement or a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Gilo is not in the West Bank. As Isabel Kershner correctly reports today in the New York Times (which publishes the Tribune):
Israel said Tuesday that it had advanced plans to expand a Jewish district of Jerusalem in territory that was captured in the 1967 war and that the Palestinians claim as part of their future state. . . .
The Israeli move to push forward the building plans in Jerusalem comes as the Palestinians have begun seeking support for a plan to win the United Nations Security Council’s recognition of a Palestinian state, without Israel’s agreement, in the lands Israel won in 1967. . .
[The 900 housing units] are in Gilo, an area in southern Jerusalem considered by Israel to be a neighborhood of the city and by the Palestinians and much of the world to be a settlement that violates international law
In addition, it is clear from reading the transcript of yesterday’s State Department press briefing that the Obama administration also understands that Gilo is situated in Jerusalem and not the West Bank. For instance, spokesman Ian Kelly states:
Well, I think, Michel, you’ve heard us say many times that we believe that neither party should engage in any kind of actions that could unilaterally preempt or appear to preempt negotiations. And I think that we find the Jerusalem Planning Committee’s decision to move forward on the approval of the – approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem as dismaying.
Gilo lies within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, though it is outside the Green Line delineating the pre-1967 boundaries, as shown in this U.N. map. Another part of the city that falls within this category — within municipal boundaries but outside the Green Line — is Jabel Mukater, the home of the Arab attacker who shot dead eight yeshiva students in April 2008. As Steven Erlanger and Kershner reported March 8, 2008 in the NYT:
The killer, identified as Ala Abu Dhaim, 25, was a Palestinian Jerusalemite with permanent residency in the city. His home in the Jebel Mukaber neighborhood of East Jerusalem. . . .
Furthermore, the U.N. report linked above (“The Planning Crisis in East Jerusalem”, April 2009) identifies places like Sheik Jarrah, Silwan, Ath Thuri, and Beit Hanina — all within Jerusalem boundaries but over the Green Line, just like Gilo — as part of Jerusalem. Bottom line — if Sheik Jarrah, Silwan, Ath Thuri, etc., are in Jerusalem (and they are), then so too is Gilo.
Finally, the New York Times ran the following correction on June 5, 2002:
Correction(6/5/02): An article last Wednesday about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict misstated the location of Gilo, a Jewish neighborhood built on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. It is in southern Jerusalem, not East Jerusalem.
The International Herald Tribune brief is attributed to Reuters, and Reuters had additional issues yesterday with Gilo coverage. Take for instance this headline on Ori Lewis’ article from yesterday — “Israel angers U.S. by approving new West Bank homes” (seen also here):
The Ottawa Citizen also has a brief with the headline today: “Officials approve homes for Jews in West Bank.”
The White House Statement
In yesterday’s article “White House ‘dismayed’ at Jerusalem settlement expansion,'” Reuters embellishes a White House statement, stating:
The White House said on Tuesday that it was “dismayed” over Israeli approval to expand the Gilo settlement in Jerusalem and sharply criticized the ongoing evictions and demolition of Palestinian homes.
“At a time when we are working to relaunch negotiations, these actions make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
In actuality, Robert Gibbs’ statement did not use the word “settlement” to describe Gilo. The statement, in its entirety, reads:
We are dismayed at the Jerusalem Planning Committee’s decision to move forward on the approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem. At a time when we ar e working to re-launch negotiations, these actions make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed. Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. The U.S. also objects to other Israeli practices in Jerusalem related to housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes. Our position is clear: the status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties.
No mention of the West Bank or settlements. The term “settlement” to describe Gilo is itself problematic given that it refers to Jewish communities in the West Bank, whereas Gilo is in Israel’s capital. The New York Times, as noted above, was much more neutral on this point, writing: “Gilo, an area in southern Jerusalem considered by Israel to be a neighborhood of the city and by the Palestinians and much of the world to be a settlement that violates international law . . .”
Agence France Presse, like Reuters, also uses a tendentious formulation, stating: “Gilo is one of a dozen Jewish settlements in the eastern part of the Holy City, which Israel has annexed in a move not recognised by the international community” (Ron Bousso, “Israel fends off criticism of settlement expansion,” Nov. 18, 2009).
Notably, the Washington Post printed the following correction on July 16, 2009:
A June 26 A-section article referred to Gilo as a Jewish settlement. It is a Jewish neighborhood built on land captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and annexed to Israel as part of Jerusalem’s expanded municipal boundaries. The United Nations has not acknowledged the annexation.