New York Times Erases Palestinian West Bank from Map

The unexplained move by the newspaper, which has been accused of being pro-Israel bias, comes as Israel mulls annexing the occupied territory.

As Israeli government mulls the annexation of the Palestinian occupied territory of the West Bank, the New York Times and a local Israeli newspaper seem to embrace the potential plans by removing the West Bank from the map while only naming Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

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According to Electronic Intifada website, the map was included in the print version of an article about secret Israeli airstrikes in Egypt, which are approved by the government of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The article was published on Feb. 3, according to the website.

Meanwhile, the online version of the article did not include the same map but a photo attached with it shows Israeli Prime Minister speaking at an event for the Jerusalem Post with a map behind him that also omits the West Bank from a map showing only Israel and Gaza.

“One possible conclusion is that Netanyahu and The Jerusalem Post are promoting a future in which some two million Palestinians are squeezed into a Gaza Strip bantustan while even more Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) are forced into a greater Israel in which they may or may not have voting rights,” Michael F. Brown wrote for Electronic Intifada.

Brown said that the New York Times has in the same posted the Syrian occupied territory of Golan Heights as part of Israel despite being internationally recognized as an occupied territory. The leading U.S. newspaper never explained that characterization and has so far failed to explain the latest one.

The news is particularly concerning because it comes less than two months after Likud, the Israeli ruling right-wing party, overwhelmingly voted for a resolution urging its lawmakers to push for the annexation of the West Bank, which is under heavy Israeli military occupation and is considered part of the future Palestinian state.

Meanwhile the West Bank and Gaza have been rocked with unrest over the past two months over the Dec. 6 decision of the U.S. administration to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, breaking with international accords stating that the fate of the city should be decided as part of a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.

The New York Times coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has always come under scrutiny from pro-palestinian activists as well as other journalists for its clear bias in favor of Israel. The newspaper tends to solely interview Israelis and occupation officials even when the news involves Palestinians people, homes and lands.

RELATED: Israel Pressures NBA to Remove 'Nonexistent' Palestine from Countries List

Ethan Bronner, who served as the newspaper’s Jerusalem bureau chief between 2008 and 2012, sparked controversy in 2010 when reports surfaced that his son was enlisted in the Israeli military in what many called, including journalists within the organization, a conflict of interest.

The management responded by saying that “the editors discussed the situation and see no reason to change Bronner’s status as bureau chief.”

Israel has been carrying out increasing colonization of the West bank over the past few decades through building thousands of homes and transferring Jewish population into settlements all over the occupied Palestinian territory, which is illegal under international law.

Successive right-wing governments have been increasingly endorsing the ideological principles of extremist Jewish conservatives who believe in the idea of a greater Israel between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea.

Multiple ministers within Netanyahu's government have publically said they would stand against the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank as it is part of Israel.

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Israel approves largest West Bank settlement construction in 25 years

Israel has greenlighted plans for over 8,000 new homes in the West Bank, with over a third for “immediate” construction, the defense minister revealed on Sunday, making it the largest expansion of Jewish settlements in the area in 25 years.

According to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, 3,651 settlements were approved last week, Haaretz reports. The minister noted that “What we’ve approved on June 6 and 7 is the maximum that can be approved.”

Plans for 8,345 new housing units have been approved by the Israeli authorities so far this year, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency writes, citing Liebermann. Out of these, 3,066 have been given final approval and will soon be built.

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“The numbers for the first half of 2017 are the highest since 1992,” Lieberman said, as cited by local media and news agencies.

The defense minister also praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for its aggressive stance on expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“There was no better government in terms of settlement construction,” he said, according to Haaretz. 

For some, however, the plans appear to fall short of expectations.

A general view shows the Israeli settlement of Ramot © Ronen Zvulun

“I respect the defense minister very much but unfortunately the numbers he mentioned aren’t correct,” Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, said, according to the newspaper. According to Dagan, most of the approved units “are counted five or six times,” essentially putting the “real number” under 2,000 housing units.

However, according to Lieberman, pushing for more would “stretch the rope beyond its limit, and thus put the entire settlement enterprise at risk.”

Nearly 400,000 Jewish settlers are estimated to be living in the West Bank along with 2.8 million Palestinians. Another 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem, an area claimed by Palestinians. 

The construction of settlements in the region is considered illegal under international law. The international community has long voiced concerns over the controversial constructions while condemning the deteriorating security situation between Israelis and Palestinians.

The government of Israel stopped building official settlements in 1992, according to Israeli monitoring group Peace Now. That, however, did not stop the construction of unauthorized settlements in the West Bank.

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Paris Condemns Israeli Decision to Legalize Housing in West Bank

Paris, Feb 7 (Prensa Latina) French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault condemned today the adoption of a law in the Israeli Parliament aimed at endorsing thousands of houses built on Palestinian land in the West Bank.

In a statement, the minister questioned that the legislation contributes to perpetuating 'the existence of dozens of colonies and settlements by giving them a legal basis for their future development.'

That fact, he added, could aggravate tensions in the region, so 'I call on Israel to respect its international obligations and to reconsider this law.'

Ayrault recalled the resolution adopted at the United Nations on December 23, 2016 declaring colonization an illegal act under international law.

He also pointed out that the law passed by Israel undermines the two-state solution, endorsed by much of the international community as the only way to resolve the conflict peacefully.

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Israel approves 2,500 new West Bank housing units

Israel will build 2,500 additional homes in the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank territories, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced. Most of them will expand the existing settlement areas.

The plans have been authorized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and are intended to allow the settlements “to maintain regular daily life,” the ministry said in a statement.

“It will be one of the largest industrial zones in the West Bank, in which we are planning to set up warehouse and fuel storage infrastructure, along with other elements,” the statement reads.

The news comes days after Israel announced a similar expansion of housing units in East Jerusalem.

READ MORE Israel approves 560 new illegal homes in E. Jerusalem as Trump takes office

The Israeli settlement policy goes against international law and has been the subject of much criticism from other nations, including the US under the Obama administration. Observers believe that the announcements, made in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration last Friday, are intended to signal Israel’s expectation of support from the new US president.

The ministry said that 100 of the homes would be built in the town of Beit El, Reuters reported. This settlement has received funding from the family of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to Israeli media.

On Monday, Netanyahu reportedly told members of his security cabinet that he had decided to lift all restrictions on Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, which were put in place under diplomatic pressure, Haaretz newspaper wrote, citing senior officials briefed on the situation. The PM also announced his plans for moving forward with settlement expansion in the West Bank, according to the paper.

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Israel Confirms It Plans To Seize West Bank Land

JERUSALEM: Israel confirmed on Thursday it was planning to appropriate a large tract of fertile land in the occupied West Bank, close to Jordan, a move likely to exacerbate tensions with Western allies and already drawing international condemnation.

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