Propaganda or news? Associated Press names Jerusalem an “Israeli” city

A Palestinian man and his son walk in front of the rubble of their house after it was demolished by Israeli occupation authorities in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur on 5 November 2012.

Mahfouz Abu Turk APA images

The Associated Press today seemingly awarded Israel sovereignty over Jerusalem.

An AP report posted by The New York Times and numerous other publications, on a rally held by the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip today, claims:

Hamas has gained new support among Palestinians following eight days of fighting with Israel in November, during which Israel pounded the seaside strip from the air and sea, while Palestinians militants lobbed rockets toward the Israeli cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for the first time.

Another instance of the AP report, published on the Time website refers to “the heartland Israeli cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.”

No country in the world, including the United States, formally recognizes Jerusalem as part of “Israel.”

The AP’s influential stylebook states:

Jerusalem stands alone in datelines

In other words, no country is identified. It is one of only a handful of non-US cities for which the stylebook makes this exception.

Fear of the facts

Under the 1947 UN Partition resolution (181) which Israel alleges grants it international legitimacy, the entirety of the city of Jerusalem was designated a “corpus separatum” – an international zone belonging to neither the Arab nor the Jewish states that the resolution envisaged, but which were never created according to its terms.

During the 1947-48 Nakba, as Zionist militias conquered most of historic Palestine far beyond the boundaries envisaged in resolution 181, they ethnically cleansed and conquered western Jerusalem, expelling its Palestinian residents and seizing and settling their property.

Many countries, for example the UK since 1950, recognize Israel as having “de facto authority” but not “de jure” sovereignty over the areas of Jerusalem occupied by Zionist militias in 1947-48.

No legal validity

In 1967, Israel conquered eastern Jerusalem then annexed it, an action that has been rejected unanimously and repeatedly in international law. UN Security Council Resolution 465 of 1980, for instance, declares:

all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Israel, endlessly indulged and coddled by the so-called “international community,” has been able to flout this and many other resolutions with total impunity, as it continues its violent process of ethnic cleansing, land theft and settlement, with the goal of turning Jerusalem into an exclusively Jewish city.

A major part of its effort to violate Palestinian rights and international law has been to market Jerusalem – in defiance of legal, geographical and demographic facts – as an “Israeli city.”

Many media organizations – intimidated by constant bullying by Zionist groups – have succumbed to referring to Jerusalem as “disputed” rather than “occupied” in order to mask the facts and appease anti-Palestinian critics.

It looks like the influential AP has gone a step further and is now fully on board with Israeli propaganda.

Update 20:12 UTC: New York Times deletes reference to Jerusalem as “Israeli” city in AP report

Hours after the publication of this post, the text of the AP report on The New York Times website was changed removing the reference to Jerusalem as an “Israeli” city. It now states:

Hamas, meanwhile, has gained new support among Palestinians following eight days of fighting with Israel in November, during which Israel pounded the seaside strip from the air and sea, while Palestinians militants for the first time lobbed rockets toward Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

No editor’s note or correction documents the change but it is confirmed by screenshots made by The Electronic Intifada.

The change has not been made on other major publications carrying the AP report including Time and USA Today.




The Partition Borders are more than just 'envisaged'. They are actually the sovereign borders of Israel declared on 14th May 1948 and recognized by the USA and other states: see These borders have never been legally changed since. Not only all of Jerusalem, but the cities of Acre, Ashkelon, Nazareth, Beersheba, Lod, and Jaffa are outside the legal sovereign borders of Israel.


The specific entry on Jerusalem in the style book reads: "Jerusalem [bolded] The city in Israel stands alone in datelines." And this is from my 2009 copy of the book. Same as "Tokyo [bolded] The city in Japan stands alone in datelines."

The AP guide lists 56 international cities that are to be written without a country attached. These cities are well known enough to be independently mentioned (Mexico City, Toronto, Rome) and political sensitivity is not part of the calculation.

Not saying they've made the right determination, but this isn't new.

The New York Times Manual of Style & Usage doesn't address the issue.


(i submitted a comment earlier which was obliterated because i didn't include my home page address. i will try to reproduce it.) despite a long record of un resolutions condemning israel for the grotesquely brutal treatment of the indigenous palestinians and the flouting of international laws, no improvement has been forthcoming. one of the reasons may be that the us has blocked enforcement in exchange for agreeing to let the resolutions pass. ward churchill has documented this record of "obstructions,subversions,violations,and refusals of international legality" at the un from1945 to 2003, in an essay called, "a government of laws"? if enforcement had occurred, people probably wouldn't be so deluded. i think it's important that it be made clear that the situation in palestine is one of settler-colonialism, and that israel is not your yiddische mama, or the eternal scapegoat and victim. journalists have to research more diligently, or try to publish in alternative vehicles.

Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.