.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

EU publishes report based on false information

From YNet on January 12:

The European Union has decided to pursue a series of steps which may undermine Israel's control of Area C in the West Bank, an official EU document obtained by Ynet on Thursday suggests.

The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three areas of control: Area A which is under the Palestinian Authority's full control; Area B, which is under Palestinian civil controls and shared Israeli-Palestinian security control; and Area C, which is controlled by Israel.

Area C makes up 62% of the West Bank, but the Palestinians make up only 5.8% of its population.

The document, titled "Area C and Palestinian state building," harshly criticizes Israel's policies in the West Bank, claiming they have caused the Palestinian population in Area C to shrink significantly and recede into enclaves.

Is this true?

The EU report itself was published last July.

Legal scholar Avi Bell analyzed the document and the sources it gave, and wrote this up:



 I first went to the EU report. This is the key paragraph: "According to Save the Children UK (SCUK) Fact Sheet on the Jordan Valley of October 2009 more than 90% of the Jordan Valley is designated as Area C. Prior to the Israeli occupation in 1967 the Palestinian population of the Jordan Valley was estimated at between 200,000 and 320,000. As of 2009 the population is approximately 56,000 with roughly 70% of residents concentrated in the City of Jericho (located in Area A). ..." The citation is to http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/docs/English_Jordan_Valley_Fact_Sheet_and_Citations.pdf.

That link is stale, but I found the fact sheet at http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/opt_prot_savethechildren_Jordan_Valley_Fact_Sheet_oct_2009.pdf. The fact sheet has the following statement in bullet points under the heading "Background": "Prior to the Israeli occupation in 1967, the Palestinian population of the Jordan Valley was estimated at between 200,000 and 320,000. [MA’AN]". No other reference is given.

While the MA'AN in question is not identified, it appears to be the Ma'an Development Center, which put out a 2008 report called Palestine's Forgotten Displacement: The Plight of the Jordan Valley Bedouin  with the following paragraph on page 18: "... While exact figures for displacement and in particular displacement of Jordan Valley Bedouin do not exist, comparisons of data from the time of Jordanian rule and today suggest that the region has suffered significant forced displacement. Prior to 1967 estimates range from 200,000 to 320,000 people who lived in the Jordan Valley. Today however the total population is set between 52,000 to 56,000 (for the greater Jordan Valley). Local community leaders also say that approximately 90 per cent of the villages that existed prior to 1967 have disappeared from the map." Needless to say, no sources are cited. Page 19 offers the following, again without sources: "Though Bedouin are disproportionately affected, residents across the Jordan Valley are especially vulnerable to displacement. Since the 1950s, the population has decreased from around 300,000 to only 56,000 today."

According to subsequent Ma'an reports, the pre-1967 population has increased to first 300,000-320,000 and then to 320,000-350,000.

Page 8 of the 2010 Ma’an publication Bankrolling Colonialism: How US Zionist Organizations in the Jordan Valley are Undermining a Future Palestinian State," jointly published with the Jordan Valley Popular Committees states that "The Palestinian population of the Jordan Valley is 58,000 approximately 2% of the Palestinian population in the West Bank. 70% of Jordan Valley residents live in the city of Jericho. Prior to the 1967 occupation the population was estimated at between 300,000 and 320,000." The latter population number is cited to “Jordan Valley Solidarity"  That site states, “When Israel occupied the Jordan Valley in 1967, 320,000 people resided in the area. Following the continued Israeli campaign of creeping ethnic cleansing, only 56,000 Palestinians still reside in the Valley on a permanent basis today.” Jordan Valley Solidarity’s citation for the 320,000 figure is to a dead link in the site of the “Popular Struggle Coordination Committee”. But while the link is dead, the apparent reference is to a 2009 report by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee called an Eye on the Jordan Valley  which states, “when Israel occupied the Jordan Valley in 1967, 320,000 people resided in the area.” The footnote cites: “‘Eye on the Jordan Valley: To exist is to resist’: The Grassroots Palestinian Anti Apartheid Wall Campaign: May 07.” Eye on the Jordan Valley: To exist Is to Resist from May 2007 turns out to be a fact sheet put out by Ma’an and The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. Page 14 contains the following statement without citation: “Between 1948 and 1967, the Palestinian population of the area from Ein Gedi in the south to Bisan in the north reached 320,000. However, once the occupation began, hundreds of Palestinians were killed; dozens of Palestinian communities were leveled; and Palestinian residents were forced to immigrate to Jordan.” (In other words, if you go through the string of citations, Ma’an cited itself as the source.)

Eye on the Jordan Valley, a 2010 report jointly published by Ma’an with the Jordan Valley Popular Committees  states on page 26, without any citation of sources, “Between 1948 and 1967, the Palestinian population of the area from Ein Gedi in the south to Bisan in the north was around 320,000. However, once the occupation began, hundreds of Palestinians were killed, dozens of Palestinian communities were leveled, and Palestinian residents were forced to emigrate. Currently, only 52,000 Palestinians permanently live in the Jordan Valley.”

Page 42 of Ma’an’s 2011 "Diary" states that "when Israel began occupying the fertile Jordan Valley in 1967, 320,000 Palestinians lived in the region. ... Since 1967, Israel has managed to decrease the Palestinian population in the Valley by 82.5% to only 56,000." Of course, no sources are cited.

Restricted Access and Its Consequences: Israeli Control of Vital Resources in the Jordan Valley and Its Impact on the Environment, a 2011 report by Ma’an, states on page 2: “In addition to the extremely adverse effects on Palestinian population levels in the Jordan Valley, decreasing from over 320,000 in 1967 to 52,000 today, the Israeli policies have had grave consequences for the Palestinian agricultural sector and have produced a number of continuing and residual environmental concerns.” Footnote 44 on page 41, in the meantime, states: “There has been speculation that the unjust treatment of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley is part of a strategy to cleanse Palestinians from the area in an effort to facilitate complete annexation of the valuable area by Israel. The Palestinian population of the Jordan Valley has decreased by 82% since 1967, from 350,000 to 56,000 today.” No sources are cited and no explanation given of the additional retroactive jump from 320,000 to 350,000.

Finally, the following statement appears in the publication “To Exist is to Resist: Save the Jordan Valley,” jointly put out by Ma’an Development Center and Jordan Valley Popular Committees: “Jordan Valley has been under complete occupation since 1967. Prior to the 6-day war, the population of the Jordan Valley was between 300,000 and 320,000. The population now stands at 53,000 of which about 70% live in the city of Jericho.” The August 2010 Ma’an’s bi-monthly “Developmental Focus” explains the publication as follows: “MA’AN’s publication To Exist is to Resist – Save the Jordan Valley outlines the situation of the Jordan Valley in an easy accessible coffee table format. The Latest Publications book is made in cooperation with the Local Popular Committees in the Jordan Valley and funded by the Representative Office of Norway.” The same article tells us, “Together with MA’AN Development Center, the Palestinian National Authority and international solidarity groups, the Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign is working with the Palestinians in the Jordan Valley at the grassroots level. The slogan of the campaign; ‘To Exist is to Resist’ emphasizes the importance of remaining in the Jordan Valley to resist Israeli apartheid, colonialism and forced displacement in order to keep working for a future Palestinian state.” (http://www.maan-ctr.org/pdfs/Newsl.pdf, page 8).

To sum up, the figures in the EU report, while cited to Save the Children UK, apparently come from a report by a Palestinian organization called Ma’an. The Ma’an figures vary from report to report, and are cited to no external sources whatsoever.

And how good are the Ma’an sources? They are obviously made up.

You can find Israel’s 1967 census of the West Bank here  There is no breakdown of figures for the Jordan Valley, but the total West Bank figure is 598,637, with only 9,078 in the Jericho district. Interestingly, if you take the figures for the Jericho, Nablus, Tulkarm, and Jenin districts together, you get to 311,983. This suggests to me that the figure of 320,000 is the entire Samaria north of Ramallah. (The other districts are Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron).

We've seen before how NGOs and the media are willing to believe Palestinian Arab statistics without any fact checking, even when they are spurious. Apparently the EU is just as sloppy.