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May 10, 2007

Accurate? Don't Bank On It


When a major international body like the World Bank issues a report on conditions in the West Bank, the international press pays attention. Even if the report doesn't include much new information, but instead compiles material from sources like B'Tselem, Amira Hass, Peace Now, Bimkom, Amnesty International and the like. Even if the report at first glance shows up several inaccuracies.

And such is the case with the World Bank's report on movement and access in the West Bank released yesterday.

-- The report falsely claims there are "settler-only" roads in the West Bank. While there are West Bank roads prohibited to Palestinians, these roads are open to all Israelis -- settlers and otherwise, Jews and Arabs alike.

-- The report errs:

Under the Oslo Accords, the status of East Jerusalem was left to final status negotiations and therefore Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are currently considered neither citizens of Israel nor residents of WB&G.

In actuality, East Jerusalem Arabs are absolutely entitled to Israeli citizenship with full voting and all other rights, a fact that the Boston Globe corrected on Feb. 4, 2003. But the Mufti of Jerusalem warns east Jerusalem Arabs against becoming Israeli citizens.

-- The report relies on discredited Peace Now figures regarding the percentage of settlement land privately owned by Palestinians.

-- The report misleading on illegal building in Jerusalem, stating, for example:

[T]he application of zoning and planning provisions and the enforcement of building regulations is discriminatory in the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem compared with that in the Israeli neighborhoods. . . . while 80 percent of building violations were recorded in West Jerusalem, 80 percent of actual demolition orders were issued for buildings in Palestinian East Jerusalem.

But as Justus Weiner writes in his book Illegal Construction in Jerusalem: A Variation on an Alarming Global Phenomenon:

These allegations are based on a disingenuous manipulation of statistical data. Such assertions ignore the critical difference, which typifies the types of violations in the two sectors. In the Jewish sector the violations are generally minor, such as enclosing a balcony without a permit. In the Arab sector, many of the violations are major, like constructing a multi-story building on public property.

Posted by TS at May 10, 2007 08:29 AM


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