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March 15, 2016

‘Contested’ Sahara Versus ‘Occupied’ West Bank—Media Myopia

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What’s the difference between “contested” and “occupied” territories? Often apparently not the territories themselves but who’s contesting them.

From Kashmir to Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh to Taiwan, countries and movements contest dozens of disputed territories, from tiny to large. Except for one involving Jews and their state. In that case, major news media coverage almost always defaults from "contested" to "occupied." The latest example:

“Up to 1 million Moroccans marched through their capital on Sunday to protest the U.N. secretary-general’s remarks about the contested [emphasis added] territory of Western Sahara,” Associated Press reported (“U.N. chief’s remarks spur massive protest,” Washington Post news brief, online Mar. 13, 2016, in print March 14 [third item down, here]).

The brief added that “Morocco considers the vast mineral-rich Western Sahara its ‘southern provinces’ and took offense when U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used the word ‘occupation’ [emphasis added] after a visit this month to refugee camps for the region’s native Sahrawis in southern Algeria.”

Of course, virtually all major news media refer virtually always to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) as occupied if not “Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory." Rare—and correct—references to “contested” or “disputed” eastern Jerusalem do appear.

In fact, as the authors of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), the cornerstone of all subsequent successful Arab-Israeli negotiations, made clear, the West Bank’s legal status was—and remains—disputed. This will be so until a final Arab-Israeli peace agreement that resolves, among other things, Jewish and Arab contested claims in the area. (See, for example, “Washington Post Corrects on West Bank ‘Palestinian Land,’” CAMERA, Sept. 7, 2014 here.)

U.N. Secretary General Ban obsessively and mistakenly lectures Israelis about “occupied Palestinian territory” on which it builds “illegal” Jewish settlements. CAMERA has spotlighted this, as in “Ban Ki-moon Wrong About Israeli Settlements,” CAMERA, Mar. 15, 2013, Washington Times, March 9.

AP and The Washington Post cover Western Sahara as “contested territory.” They—and other media—should do likewise regarding the West Bank. Considering Israel’s predominant position under the League of Nations Palestine Mandate, Article 6 and U.N. Charter, Chapter 12, Article 80 among other international provisions, not to mention the Jewish people’s more than 3,000-year-old ties to the territories, it's indisputably the least they could do.

Posted by ER at March 15, 2016 04:41 PM

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