White House Quietly Strips the Word ‘Settlement’ From Its Criticism of Israeli Settlements

Created: November 17, 2009 17:17 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Maybe “blasts” was the wrong verb for my old headline on the White House’s response to Israel’s expansion of settlements in Palestinian East Jerusalem. The White House appears to have done some editing.

When the White House press shop sent out its statement criticizing Israel this afternoon — I received mine at 2:14 p.m. — the headline above the statement read: “Statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on the Approval of Settlement Expansion in Jerusalem.” But the version that appears online has the headline “Statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Jerusalem.”

I don’t know what happened here. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capitol, but the claim is rejected by the Palestinians and the United Nations, and the U.S. maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv so as to avoid the appearance of taking sides in the dispute. The Gilo area of Jerusalem in question did not fall into Israeli hands until the 1967 war, and so while there’s a dispute in the press over whether it should be called a settlement, the United Nations considers it to be one. From, ahem, Wikipedia:

Gilo is located over the 1967 Green Line. According to HonestReporting, Gilo is not a “settlement” in the most widespread sense of the term, which HonestReporting states “can conjure up images of isolated enclaves in the West Bank”. Gilo lies within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and is geographically contiguous to surrounding Jewish neighborhoods that pre-dated the Six Day War. Some media outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Associated Press, Boston Globe and CBS News,have described Gilo as a “neighborhood”.11 A CNN memorandum to its staff stated that “We refer to Gilo as a ‘Jewish neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem’… We don’t refer to it as a settlement.” Palestinians and media watch groups feel this is not accurate.12 Other media outlets such as the BBC, AFP, Reuters and the Economist describe Gilo as a “settlement”.11 The United Nations also describes Gilo as an “Israeli settlement” in East Jerusalem.13