CBC Amends "Occupied Territories" Reference… Well, Sort Of

Following communication by HonestReporting Canada staff on June 3 to senior editors at the CBC, an online report by Mideast Bureau Chief Derek Stoffel was amended to remove an inaccurate reference he made of the existence of  “Occupied (Palestinian) Territories”.

Mr. Stoffel’s report entitled: “Israeli Tourism Ministry drops gay pride plane promotion after activists protest” also focused on how the Tel Aviv Pride Parade drew over 180,000 participants to its annual event.

In Mr. Stoffel’s report, the following inaccurate statement was made (emphasis added): “Some activists have accused the Israeli government of exploiting the country’s relatively liberal attitudes toward the LGBT community in order to distract from its treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.”

As we told the CBC, we took exception to Mr. Stoffel’s reference of “Occupied Territories,” especially as it was in caps, as if these areas are established, recognized and defined. Whereas, Palestinians, at present, do not have statehood and merely claim territory. Furthermore, to imply that all Palestinian claimed territory is “Occupied” is erroneous. Just consider how Israel no longer occupies Gaza when it disengaged its combined armed forces and 8,500 settlers in 2005. As well, in Area A of the west bank, this region is under full civil and security control by the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinians claim that the entire territory east of the 1948 armistice line is “occupied” because it was taken by force in the Six Day War. However, this area includes most of Jerusalem, other Jewish communities that predate the State of Israel, and significant Jewish religious and historical sites. Only after the area was retaken by Israel in 1967 were Jews allowed to return to these areas.

As documented by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:

The settlements are not located in “occupied territory.” The last binding international legal instrument which divided the territory in the region of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza was the League of Nations Mandate, which explicitly recognized the right of Jewish settlement in all territory allocated to the Jewish national home in the context of the British Mandate. These rights under the British Mandate were preserved by the successor organization to the League of Nations, the United Nations, under Article 49 of the UN Charter. The West Bank and Gaza are disputed, not occupied, with both Israel and the Palestinians exercising legitimate historical claims. There was no Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza Strip prior to 1967. Jews have a deep historic and emotional attachment to the land and, as their legal claims are at least equal to those of Palestinians, it is natural for Jews to build homes in communities in these areas, just as Palestinians build in theirs.

The territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was captured by Israel in a defensive war, which is a legal means to acquire territory under international law. In fact, Israel’s seizing the land in 1967 was the only legal acquisition of the territory this century: the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank from 1947 to 1967, by contrast, had been the result of an offensive war in 1948 and was never recognized by the international community, including the Arab states, with the exception of Great Britain and Pakistan.

This is why we requested that this reference in this CBC report be amended. In response to our complaint, the CBC did amend the statement but instead of removing it entirely, the CBC simply put the words “occupied territories” in lower case, instead of explaining how these areas are fundamentally disputed, not occupied. 


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