I’ve written a few posts recently about Israeli settlements and the big lie that they’re “illegal”. There are many other lies put out about settlements, especially by the EU and the outgoing Obama administration.
Daled Amos has written a definitive blog post deconstructing these other big lies we hear over and over and he’s taken a great deal of information from hostile NGOs like Peace Now and B’Tselem: not what you’d consider sources biased toward Israel.
This interview with Ben Rhodes is a typical example of lie after lie and upon these lies rested Obama’s perfidy at the UN Security Council leading to UNSC 2334. This interview has prompted the following from the PBS Ombudsman:
Ombudsman Michael Getler wrote on PBS’ website that Rhodes’ error “merits some kind of correcting or clarifying statement by the NewsHour on the air or online or both.”
I encourage you to read Daled’s whole piece (or bookmark it for reference) but here are some of the key claims and answers.
Are There Tens of Thousands of Israeli Settlements… Or 228?
… in his interview to Judy Woodruff on the PBS Newshour, quoted above, [Ben] Rhodes claimed that Israel had built literally thousands of settlements — and then he doubled down on that claim and asserted that actually tens of thousands of settlements had been built.
CAMERA easily rebutted what Rhodes said by pointing out that according to Peace Now there were a total of 228 settlements altogether, 131 settlements and 97 outposts, a far cry from the tens of thousands of settlements that Rhodes claimed, unchallenged.
With the Rhodes embellishment disposed of, we can turn to Secretary of State John Kerry.
3 Settlements Built in 22 Years
In a speech following passing of the UN resolution, Kerry claimed:
We’ve made countless public and private exhortations to the Israelis to stop the march of settlements.
But have there really been a steady building of new settlements that would constitute a “march” as implied by Kerry?
Again, all we have to do is just take a look at the Peace Now website.
In April 2012, they posted an article with the headline: For the First Time Since 1990 – the Government is to Approve the Establishment of New Settlements:
According to reports, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated this week that the Government will approve the establishment of three settlements (Bruchin, Sansana and Rechalim), in the upcoming cabinet meeting on Sunday, April 22.
That’s it. Three settlements. In 2012. And no new settlements built since. And for this Kerry is “exhorting” Israel about stopping the “march” of settlements.
The White House is not alone in exaggerating a growth in settlement construction.
The rest of the piece goes on to look at specific growth inside settlements (the lowest it’s ever been and lower than growth in the rest of Israel) and the many media distortions, lies and #FakeNews arising from this.
Settlements Take Up Only 1% of the “West Bank”
That brings us to another misconception.
With all the talk by both the White House on the one hand and the media on the other, just how much land do the settlements take up in the “West Bank / Judea and Samaria?
Not a lot.
B’Tselem claimed that settlements took up 1.7% of the area
Peace Now claimed settlements took up 1.36% of the land
And in 2011, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, claimed settlements took up 1.1% of the West Bank.
So again, why the fuss?
Exactly what I’ve pointed out to many visitors as I’ve driven them across the largely empty hills of Judea and Samaria. Jews living there are few and far between and there is huge swathes of open land.
So Why All The Fuss Over the Settlements?
So far, we have seen:
- There has been no aggresive growth in the number of settlements built
- The number of houses built has decreased and don’t meet the need
- The growth in the number of settlers is due to the natural increase of the birthrate
- The settlements take a little more than 1% of the area
- The settlements have not stood in the way of peace deals being offered in the past.
- The reason Israel has not offered a peace deal recently is because Abbas refuses to negotiate.
So why all the fuss over the settlements?
Evelyn Gordon again offers an answer:
In short, if settlement construction were really the death blow to the peace process that Obama and his European counterparts like to claim, Netanyahu ought to be their favorite Israeli prime minister ever instead of the most hated, because never has settlement construction been as low as it has under him. The obvious conclusion is that all the talk about settlement construction is just a smokescreen, and what really makes Western leaders loathe Netanyahu is something else entirely: the fact that unlike Rabin, Barak, Sharon and Olmert, he has so far refused to offer the kind of sweeping territorial concessions that, every time they were tried, have resulted in massive waves of anti-Israel terror.
At issue is more than just the sloppy confusion of settlements, houses and settler population. The hyperbole used by both the White House and the media pushes an agenda that clouds what is at stake and puts responsibility for peace on one party alone – Israel.
Ben Rhodes, who boasted about lying to deceive the American public and lawmakers to push through the Iran deal and who has repeatedly used all these lies about Israeli settlements to further Obama’s objective of forcing Israel into a potentially disastrous capitulation to Palestinian terror, has just been appointed by Obama to the board of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.
Thankfully, on Friday, we switch to a Trump administration whose key people on Israel know these truths about legitimate Jewish settlements in the indigenous Jewish heartlands of Judea and Samaria.