It’s a shame the Times of Israel and other news outlets chose to regurgitate AP’s article, “Netanyahu years see more settlement growth“, “West Bank settlement expansion surged under Netanyahu” and the other variations on that title’s theme, without bothering to add any critical editorial commentary or response to how AP selectively presented their data and reached their conclusions.
Starting with the various titles (some worse than others), the article is misleading from beginning to end.
“The population of Jewish settlers in the West Bank has surged during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s years in office, growing at more than twice the pace of Israel’s overall population, according to newly obtained official figures.”
After repeatedly telling us how much Netanyahu supports settlement construction and growth, using words like “surge” and “strong” and “continued support”, it’s only 6 paragraphs into the article that AP bothers to admit (right before reminding us that the settlement population “more than doubled” in 21 years):
“The rate of settler population growth slowed slightly under Netanyahu, from 31% during the previous five years under his predecessors Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert.”
“Slowed slightly” - exactly how much is “slightly”?
It’s only towards the end of the article, quoting the “anti-settlement watchdog group Peace Now,” who claims that settlement growth rates are now “23% inside the barrier and 20% beyond it”.
If under Sharon that percent was 31%, and under Netanyahu that percent dropped to 20%-23% – um, wheres the surge?
Are you still with me when I ask how these papers let this AP article be published?
Continuing on, you might also find yourself confused from the beginning — is the article talking about new settlements? New home construction? Population growth? The article seems to go back and forth, mixing them together.
The article mixes them together, but suspiciously leaves out the hard numbers on actual construction data, sticking only to select population growth numbers and percentages – and there’s a reason for that.
In 2010 (I provide the raw data at the end of the article, all supplied from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics website), Netanyahu completed construction on 1670 homes in Judea and Samaria. That number reached a low of 1,272 in 2012, and in 2013 was only 1,439.
Between 2010 – 2013, the settlement population grew by approximately 50,000 people, yet the total number of new homes built was a mere 6,062 – nowhere near enough for the population’s needs.
It gets worse.
The AP article likes to talk percentages, so let’s use their lingo.
In 2013, Settlers represented 4.28% of the national population – yet only 3.37% of national construction was completed in Judea and Samaria.
Since 2010, the settlements’ share from the national percentage of housing completions has only declined — under Netanyahu.
For the period between 2010 to 2013, settlers averaged 4.19% of the national population – but only represented 3.23% of national house starts and 4.1% of national housing completions.
In short, unlike what the article wants to make you think, under Netanyahu, besides not being allowed to build what the population needed, settlements did not even receive their fair share of new homes compared to the rest of Israel.
Considering AP’s history, it’s important to point out that the article liberally quotes the radical left-wing Peace Now, but yet doesn’t quote NGO-Monitor or any settler for that matter who might have a thing or two to say about Peace Now’s statements or this data.
But now let’s also talk about the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, since the article addresses them too.
The article makes a doubly ridiculous statement that the Israeli papers let slide:
“The more than 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank cannot vote for the Israeli government that controls much of their lives, while Jewish settlers can.”
To begin, Ambassador Yoram Ettinger’s research shows there to be approximately 1.69 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria in 2013, not over 2 million – the 2 million+ is based on clearly false data provided by the Palestinian Authority. Even if you don’t accept Ettinger’s exact numbers, the numbers AP supplies are disputed, and they should have mentioned that.
The second is that the article wants to imply, if not say outright, that Israel is an Apartheid state by not allowing “Palestinians” the right to vote for the Israeli government.
Except for one minor detail — the Arabs in Judea and Samaria have their own government that controls much of their lives.
The Arabs in Judea and Samaria pay taxes to the Palestinian Authority, they can serve in the Palestinian Authority’s army, police, national and municipal authorities, they run their own schools and can fill up their children’s minds with as much anti-Semitic brainwashing as they want (and they do), and when their government allows them to, the Arabs in Judea and Samaria even get to vote for their own government.
If there were any sentence in the AP article that shows how biased the article is, it is certainly that one.
It really is unfortunate that this AP article was posted by any Israeli paper of note, but worse, that it was published without any critical editorial response from the papers that published it.