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February 22, 2011

AP Pulls Erroneous Claim that U.S. Said Settlements "Illegal"


On Sunday (Feb. 20), the Associated Press circulated an article erroneously claiming the U.S. had declared settlements "illegal." By the end of the weekend, to its credit, AP replaced the article with an amended version that did not include the error.

The piece, by AP's Mohammed Daraghmeh, had originally asserted:

The Palestinians, along with the international community, say Israeli settlements on occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians are illegal. At Friday's Security Council meeting, the U.S. said it agreed with this position, but did not believe the United Nations is the appropriate place to resolve the dispute.

(The original language, which has been replaced on most sites across the web, can for now be found here.)

Had the American ambassador indeed told the U.N. told the Security Council that the U.S. deems settlements illegal, it would have been a significant change to the status quo. Ever since Ronald Reagan explicitly said settlements are "not illegal," no U.S. administration has reversed course to call them "illegal."

But Ambassador Susan Rice said no such thing. The word "illegal" doesn't appear once in her comments to the Security Council. And following to the Council's vote on a resolution referring to settlements as "illegal," Rice indicated that use of this word was in fact one of the reasons the U.S. had used its veto. She discussed the issue on Sunday's Meet the Press:

GREGORY: Before you go, I want to ask you about the U.N. vote on a resolution brought forward by the Palestinians to declare Israeli settlement activity as illegal. You, as the United States representative there, vetoed that measure because of the word “illegal.�? The administration believes that settlements are illegitimate but not necessarily illegal. ...

RICE: First of all, David, we vetoed the resolution not only because of the word “illegal�? but because our view is that we need to get the parties back to direct negotiations so that they can agree through direct talks on a two-state solution. That's the goal. And the problem with this resolution is it was one-sided. And it was designed -- not designed -- but it would have had the impact of hardening one or both sides and making it much harder for us to get them back to the table.

Posted by GI at February 22, 2011 09:20 AM


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