10 Month Settlement Freeze Vanishes Into the Sky

Journalistic prose isn’t necessarily judged on what is written but by what the reader understands.

In the following snippet from Sky News correspondent Dominic Waghorn, the reader would not understand that, contrary to a blanket refusal by Israel to freeze settlements, construction was, in fact, halted in West Bank settlements for a 10 month period at the end of 2009. This was generally referred to as a “settlement freeze.”

Reporting on US President Obama’s planned visit to Israel, Waghorn writes:

In his [Obama’s] first term in office he demanded a freeze in Israel’s illegal settlement building in the occupied West Bank. Israel refused, Mr Obama backed down, Palestinians felt let down and peace talks were never revived.

Even if one puts aside the issue of language employed by Waghorn in describing settlement building as “illegal” and the West Bank as “occupied” rather than disputed there is a clear distortion of the historical timeline.

Dominic Waghorn may wish to argue over the nuances of this description based on the issue of continuing construction in eastern Jerusalem.

The bottom line, however, is that this important period and concession by the Israeli government has been removed from the historical record to support a narrative that promotes Israel as the intransigent party. Forgotten is the fact that the Palestinians refused to return to the negotiating table during those 10 months.

Even if Waghorn believes that the settlement freeze was not actually that, he still owes his readers the full facts.