Now the Details...

The complainant, Constantine Kritsonis, wanted a correction in a story about the December Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The story was largely focused on the American abstention on the vote, but a sentence describing the Israeli position states that Israel does not consider the settlements illegal. Mr. Kritsonis thought it critical to indicate whether that was Israeli or international law. I did not.

COMPLAINT

You objected to a line in an online story entitled UN Security Council approves motion demanding end to Israeli settlements.” You were concerned that a sentence which stated “The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. Israel disputes that settlements are illegal” had important information missing:

The story should state under what system of laws Israel is disputing that settling in the occupied Palestinian territory is illegal. IS Israel referring to international law or its own? The public has the right to know this.

You requested that CBC publish a correction which included this information.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

Steve Ladurantaye, the then Managing Editor @cbcnews, replied to your request.

He told you that the article was a news service story and published on the CBC news site, focused primarily on the fact that the United States had abstained in a Security Council vote on a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and an impediment to peace. It called for settlement activity to end. He pointed out this was a short news article and the context was the unusual United States abstention. The other focus of the story was “an examination of a political approach as the end of one presidency versus the one that will begin later this month.” The abstention occurred at the end of December, in the final days of the Obama presidency.

Mr. Ladurantaye noted there could always be more context, but its absence does not constitute an error that requires correction. He also pointed out that there were many links in the article which would lead an interested reader to more detail.

REVIEW

I have stated many times in my reviews that the absence of information does not in and of itself constitute a bias. The information you seek does not distort the meaning of the story or create a false impression. The full paragraph dealing with this issue was:

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. Israel disputes that settlements are illegal and says their final status should be determined in talks on Palestinian statehood. The last round of U.S.-led peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians collapsed in 2014.

The context is a response to the U.N. Security Council resolution. It is sufficient for readers to understand the divergent views and their diplomatic impact; the context is international. Overall, the subject of the settlements and the dispute around their legal status has been the subject of many stories over many years.

As Mr. Ladurantaye pointed out to you, the focus of the article was the significance of the American abstention so close to the start of the Trump administration, which has a different view of the situation. With complex and controversial subjects like the Palestinian-Israeli one, there is always more information or detail that can be added. Everyone wants and has his or her particular narrative. A modest news story will provide a framework, not in-depth analysis. Your assessment that it makes a material difference in this case is not one I share. There is no violation of CBC policy.

Sincerely,

Esther Enkin
CBC Ombudsman