CNN’s Jerrold Kessel decides that the existence of the Israeli military occupation is merely ‘a point of view’

Any suggestion that the 34-year-old Israeli military occupation is a Palestinian “opinion”, rather than an internationally established fact, represents the extreme end of irresponsible and inexact international media reporting.

In addition to the three examples from CNN offered [below], a cursory reading of past reports on the CNN website reveal that the Israeli military occupation is generally only mentioned in reports when presented as comments made by Palestinian spokespersons.

Where the phrase does appear in the body text of reports on the CNN website, it is generally only found in Reuters wire service reports that are being republished verbatim, unedited by CNN.

In some of the instances where Reuters reports are used as a main source, to which additional material is added by CNN, the phrase is again found in quotation marks:

Erakat said tensions are being heightened by the “continuing Israeli occupation” of the Palestinian territories. …Reuters contributed to this report.

[Source: Sharon takes power as threats loom, CNN, 8 March 2001.]

No Reuters report from 7th or 8th March carries this quotation from Erakat, and Jerrold Kessel is the only CNN correspondent cited by name in this report.

The United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1322 on 7 October 2000, point 3 of which

“Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949.”

The US State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2000 - Occupied territories, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in February 2001, uses the phrase “occupied”, “occupation”, or “occupying” no less than 40 times.

For more information about media treatment of the Israeli military occupation, see The “Peace Process” vs. the Military Occupation on the Electronic Intifada’s site.


Write to CNN via

  1. Citing one or more articles, including Palestinian, Israeli security officials meet, from 11 April 2001.
  2. Asking CNN to stop presenting the Israeli military occupation as a mere point of view.
  3. Stressing that not only is the existence of the occupation an established international fact, but neglecting to mention it in reports — something that is unfortunately very common for CNN — is the equivalent of reporting on the struggle against the former regime in South Africa and failing to mention the existence of Apartheid. The existence of the Israeli military occupation is a crucial piece of contextual information for understanding the conflict and Palestinian motivations.
  4. Please write an original letter and do not simply copy & paste the information above. As always, be brief, polite, quote accurately, and include your name, address, and telephone number (which most publications require to ensure publication). Send copies of any responses or printing of your letter (including the original, if it was edited) to Please forward a copy of any letter you send to


1. HEADLINE: Palestinian, Israeli security officials meet

DATE: 11 April 2001, Web posted at: 6:16 p.m. EDT (2216 GMT)

From CNN Correspondent Jerrold Kessel

JERUSALEM (CNN) — Israeli and Palestinian security officials met Wednesday night with U.S. officials in Tel Aviv, just hours after Israel launched a military strike at a refugee camp in Palestinian-controlled Gaza.

But while the security chiefs talked, diplomats from both sides indicated they were still far apart on finding a way back to the negotiating table for peace talks.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman told CNN that a solution to the violence is “simple.”

“Arafat has to give the right orders, stop attacking Israel, stop attacking Israeli civilians,” said Arye Mekel, referring to Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

But the chief Palestinian negotiator and a member of the Palestinian cabinet told CNN, “We heard (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon say he has a plan. “I don’t think he was speaking about a peace plan. He was talking about a military plan,” said Saeb Erakat. “… If this government thinks they can get to peace through the language of the missiles and the guns that is a big mistake.”

Erakat said peace will only be obtainable through the end of what he called the Israeli “occupation” of the Palestinian territories.

“What are 3,000 settlers doing amid 1.2 million Palestinians in Gaza? And who is surrounding what? Is Arafat surrounding Israeli towns and shelling them with his tanks every night?” he asked.

Erakat said the Palestinians had offered a plan during a recent meeting in Athens, Greece, in which both sides would honor signed agreements, but at the same time implement security agreements, political agreements, and interim peace agreements.

“We are still waiting to hear from them,” Erakat said of the Israelis, adding he had little hope Wednesday’s security meetings would produce any progress.

“I believe tomorrow there will be Israeli bombs, Israeli shelling, Israeli shootings, Israeli siege, Israeli settlements, Israeli assassinations, and then the spokespersons will come and say the Palestinians must stop the violence,” said Erakat.

He said Israel wants the Palestinians to lower their expectations and “accept the occupation. Occupation and peace are two parallels that will never meet.”

The United States has been pressing both sides to resume security cooperation. After an initial meeting last week, Israeli forces fired on a car carrying Palestinian Preventative Security Chief Mohammed Dahlan as he returned to Gaza. Dahlan was not injured.

The security meeting comes after the Israeli army rolled into a refugee camp near Khan Unis in Palestinian-controlled Gaza overnight with heavily armed tanks and bulldozers. A firefight began when a call came out from the Mosques to defend the camp.

The assault was the latest Israeli retaliation for Palestinian mortar attacks on Jewish settlements in Gaza.

One Palestinian policeman and one civilian were killed, according to doctors at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis. Dozens more were injured.

At least 30 buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged, Palestinians said.

While the Israeli army said the buildings were unoccupied, the Palestinians said the buildings were homes where people lived.

The Israeli army said it razed 11 vacant buildings.

But Khan Yunis Mayor Osama Fara said 15 homes were destroyed and another 15 were heavily damaged. Hundreds of people were left homeless, Fara claimed.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Israel doesn’t want to occupy the camp, but also doesn’t want Palestinians to return there either.

Ben-Eliezer called it an act of “self defense,” but Palestinians portrayed it as an Israeli war against the Palestinian Authority.

2. HEADLINE: Jerrold Kessel: Israel’s ‘new policy’ after suicide attacks

DATE: 28 March 2001, Web posted at: 12:49 PM EST (1749 GMT)

Kessel: “We spoke, for instance, to Hanan Ashrawi, the leading Palestinian legislator and often one of the top spokespeople. She had some interesting comments. She said that even though the root cause(and this is very much the Palestinian position) of the violence remains the ongoing occupation, and as they see it, Israel’s refusal to negotiate the end of that occupation.”

3. HEADLINE: Mideast clashes continue despite Israeli-Palestinian agreement

DATE: 17 October 2000, Web posted at: 2:15 p.m. EDT (1815 GMT)

CNN Correspondents Christiane Amanpour, Walter Rodgers, John King, Ben Wedeman and Jerrold Kessel contributed to this report.

“Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi told CNN that Palestinians were “enraged” by the agreement and believed it did nothing to end what they see as Israel’s occupation of their land.”