Palestinians are not talking about a mere zoning issue

Writing in complaint of an article signed by AP correspondent Robert Burns, Daoud Kuttab has written that “Every US president since 1967 has chastised Israel for building settlements in occupied territories. Every UN Security Council Resolution and UN General Assembly decrees or statements have repeatedly censured Israel for violating the Geneva Conventions. As late as July 2004 the International Court of Justice at the Hague unanimously agreed in a decision about the Israeli wall, built deep in Palestinian territories, that settlement activities in the West Bank are in violation of international law. While AP reporters, international law, and the unanimity of world opinion agree to call Israeli building activity in the territories settlements, the AP reporter, Robert Burns, insists on his own terminology. Ironically, his insistence is not only restricted to what terms he gives to settlements, but he has the audacity and the lack of professionalism to put his language in the mouths of Palestinians. Speaking about the difficulties facing Clinton, Burns tells the readers what he thinks Palestinians want. ‘But the most immediate obstacle for negotiators is a Palestinian demand that Israel extend a curb on new housing construction [emphasis mine] in the West Bank, a constraint that Israel says will expire Sept. 26’, Burns writes. [But] Palestinians have never demanded a ‘curb on housing construction’, as if this was a mere zoning issue. Palestinians have consistently sided with the international community [actually, the international community, or ic, did not come up with this by itself, rather the ic sides with the Palestinians] that these Jewish-only settlements, built on illegally confiscated Palestinian land, are in violation of international law and must be removed. This demand is not aimed at the race or religion of the settlers but the fact that this was done in violation of international law. In a gesture for peace during proximity talks this summer, Palestinians officially handed the US peace envoy a written approval that Palestinians would be willing to make a compromise for some of the settlement blocs in areas cradling the Green Line on condition that they are swapped for lands equal in size and importance. But this has not changed Palestinians’ demands that settlement activities be suspended during the peace talks“… Daoud Kuttab’s complaint is posted here.

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