Slogan rich, evidence free: BBC’s Plett ‘analyses’ Israeli planning decisions

December 20th 2012 saw yet another article in the Middle East section of the BBC News website about ‘settlement building’ – this time relating to the call by several European members of the UN SC to “immediately halt new construction” – which they seem to have failed to notice is not yet underway and is in fact a very long way from commencement. 

The report opens with the adoption of one of the favourite mantras of anti-Israel campaigners such as the PSC: [emphasis added]

“The UN is stepping up pressure on Israel over its settlement building on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

It goes on to say:

Divided Jerusalem

“Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it as part of its capital, in a move never recognised internationally.”

What the BBC neglects to inform its readers, of course, is that eastern Jerusalem was artificially divided from the rest of the city – for the first time in its history – for only 19 years prior to 1967, as a result of the Jordanian capture and subsequent annexation of certain parts of the city. That annexation was also never recognized “internationally”.

Additionally, the report states:

“Also on Wednesday, Jerusalem’s planning committee granted approval for 2,610 homes in a new settlement in East Jerusalem called Givat Hamatos – the first to be built in the area since 1997.”

Interestingly, the BBC report not only neglects to mention that there are already people living in that area, but also that half the proposed housing units in Givat HaMatos are ear-marked for Arab residents. In addition, it does not inform its audience that one day prior to the decision on Givat HaMatos, over 600 houses were also approved - by the same planning committee – in the Arab neighbourhood of Beit Safafa. Strangely, the latter decision did not appear to irk either the UN SC, the EU or the BBC.

Givat HaMatos

The article goes on to quote a statement from the EU on the subject:

“If implemented, these plans would jeopardise the possibility of a contiguous, sovereign, independent and viable Palestinian State and of Jerusalem as the future capital of both Israel and Palestine”.

That theme is echoed in the side-bar of ‘analysis’ by the BBC’s UN correspondent Barbara Plett in which she claims that:

“The outcry at the UN reflects a real concern that Israel’s continued settlement building could deal a fatal blow to the chances for a two-state solution of its conflict with the Palestinians.

Its announcement of new construction plans, including the possibility of a new settlement in East Jerusalem, comes just days after its declared intent to build in a parcel of land known as E-1, which would cut Palestinians in East Jerusalem off from their West Bank hinterland.”

Plett analysis

Of course both the EU statement and Plett’s matching one – whilst high on hubris – have little connection to the reality on the ground as far as geography is concerned and as reflected in different peace proposals over the years.

The 2000 Camp David proposal – rejected by Arafat – included all of the sites of today’s proposed building in Israeli territory. 

Camp David proposal

Similarly, the 2008 Olmert proposal – widely accepted by many Israelis as representing the most they can offer to the Palestinians – also includes Ramat Shlomo, Givat HaMatos and E1 in Israeli territory.

Olmert plan

It is therefore notable that the BBC – along with members of the Quartet such as the EU – now appears to ignore all previous realistic proposals and instead embraces the rejectionist Palestinian approach to the dispute. It is also regrettable – and ridiculous – that they invent alarmist canards such as the notion that building houses in areas which – under any realistic peace plan – will remain in Israel “jeopardises” and “deals a fatal blow” to the chance of a two-state solution. 

For some eminently sensible and realistic commentary on the subject, one can do no better than to turn to Yaacov Lozowick, who recently wrote on the subject:

“When it comes to E1, he said, the Israelis and Palestinians are competing to see who gets the balloon and who gets the string. Jewish West Jerusalem, Maaleh Adumim, Rammallah and Bethlehem are all there to stay. Whoever ends up controlling E1 will have a comfortable land corridor between their two balloons while the other side will be left with a road through the other’s territory: a string. If Israel controls E1, the Palestinians will have a north-south road through it; if the Palestinians own E1, the Israelis will have an east-west road through it.

The claim whereby Israeli ownership of E1 would make for a truncated and thus non-viable Palestinian state on the West Bank ought to be about as convincing as saying a physical barrier between Manhattan and Brooklyn and New Jersey makes Manhattan non-viable.

To be clear: I’m not arguing for or against Israeli construction on E1. I’m merely pointing out that much of the verbiage on the topic is misleading.”

In addition to the five very pertinent points made by Mr Lozowick in the rest of his article, it is possible to add one other. If we assume that a peace agreement broadly based on something very similar to the two maps above will be the eventual outcome to the current dispute, then obviously significant numbers of Israelis will need to leave their current homes and livelihoods in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Rift Valley and relocate to other parts of Israel. The current zoning and long-term planning in areas which will remain within Israeli territory under such a two-state solution agreement could therefore actually speed up its implementation rather than presenting a barrier to it. 

It remains highly problematic that the best the BBC can apparently contribute to its audiences’ understanding of the Middle East peace process is the kind of evidence-free, slogan-rich hyperbole proffered by Barbara Plett in this article.  The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on impartiality state that:

“We are committed to reflecting a wide range of opinion across our output as a whole and over an appropriate timeframe so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented.”

On the subject of Israeli zoning and planning decisions, the BBC is failing miserably to meet its obligation to impartiality by consistently neglecting to provide audiences with any information on the indisputably significant “strand of thought” which lies behind several past peace proposals and according to which, the existing neighbourhoods of Jerusalem with a Jewish majority beyond the ‘green line’ would remain Israeli. 

By failing to meet that obligation, the BBC also contravenes – by omission – yet another of its Editorial Guidelines:

“The BBC Agreement forbids our output from expressing the opinion of the BBC on current affairs or matters of public policy”.

81 comments on “Slogan rich, evidence free: BBC’s Plett ‘analyses’ Israeli planning decisions

  1. Pingback: Slogan rich, evidence free: BBC’s Plett ‘analyses’ Israeli planning decisions | Blogs about Israel aggregation

  2. The BBC said:

    “Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it as part of its capital, in a move never recognised internationally.”

    That’s 100% accurate.

    • “Interestingly, the BBC report not only neglects to mention that there are already people living in that area, but also that half the proposed housing units in Givat HaMatos are ear-marked for Arab residents.”

      Ms Sela… are you telling us that in Israel, the state builds separating housing for Jews, Christians and Muslims?

      • “If implemented, these plans would jeopardise the possibility of a contiguous, sovereign, independent and viable Palestinian State and of Jerusalem as the future capital of both Israel and Palestine”.

        Is this why more or less every Government in the world, including the Government of the USA, expressed dismay at Israel’s “E1″ settlement plan?

        • “On the subject of Israeli zoning and planning decisions, the BBC is failing miserably to meet its obligation to impartiality.”

          The BBC’s obligation is to inform its audience of the FACTS and of international law, not of Ms Sela’s personal views on this matter.

          • “Nat”,
            Are you aware that trolling and spamming is contrary to Intl. Law?
            Read the Rome Statute on “Spamming, and Regurgitation on the Internet”. I advise you to lawyer up. ;)

          • Three comments mere minutes apart, Nat. Is the frustration so great that it prevents you waiting until you can construct a post from all the points you want to make?

            Get help

    • It leaves the wrong impression. As Hadar goes on to say:
      ‘What the BBC neglects to inform its readers, of course, is that eastern Jerusalem was artificially divided from the rest of the city – for the first time in its history – for only 19 years prior to 1967, as a result of the Jordanian capture and subsequent annexation of certain parts of the city. That annexation was also never recognized “internationally”.’
      Of course, Ms Plett can’t be expected to go into great detail about that, but there should be some contextual background.

    • Gnat, you made the accusation previously that Israeli police had deliberately killed an unarmed Palestinian 16 year old, presumably for sport.

      The video has now been released of the incident, clearly showing the 17 year old (not 16) attacking the policeman. It was also not a toy gun, as you alleged, but a lighter made to look like a gun, which apparently he produced before attcking the policeman (and continued to hold in his right hand throughout his attack).

      Will you apologise?

    • What people on this website do not want you to know: anyone who tries to contradict their marginal views is censored.

      Seems like they are annoyed at people who come with FACTS and who remind them of INTERNATIONAL LAW and HUMAN RIGHTS LAW.

      Israel is a democracy, where freedom of expression and freedom of the press are protected.

      Do Adam Levick and Hadar Sela feel unable to engage in an intellectual debate where some people contradict them using FACTS and FIGURES?

      It seems they do.

  3. A perfectly sound and legitimate piece of reporting. Far from expressing the “opinions of the BBC ” the opinions expressed are the stated ones of the FO, every FO equivalent in the world, and the UN. These opinions are reported by every news outlet ( serious news outlets ).Must try harder.

    And what kind of country plans housing and predetermines the ethnicity of those that will occupy this housing ? Imagine that being attempted in, say, Europe.

    Interestingly in Adam Levick’s chat with Tamar Yonah ( I won’t dignify it by calling it an interview ) Both Adam and Yonah, in references to the E1 proposals talk of ” Jewish housing.” Hmmmm

    • Well, you would think that, wouldn’t you?

      Hadar, since most stories are syndicated, ethical reporting as alien as the distinction between opinion and fact, and cut and paste to whatever chimes with these people’s opinions much easier than critical analysis (heaven forbid they should be uncomfortable), nothing about Plett’s article surprises me.

      Keep on pointing these up.

      • Barbara Plett wept over the death of Arafat. How could anyone possibly think that she has any vested interest in her reporting of Israel? I’m sure it’s absolutly no reflection on the professional integrity of the BBC that they continue to assign her to cover these issues.

    • “Interestingly, the BBC report not only neglects to mention that there are already people living in that area, but also that half the proposed housing units in Givat HaMatos are ear-marked for Arab residents.”

      Richard… are you telling us that in Israel, the state builds separating housing for Jews, Christians and Muslims?

      • “Separating housing” is not English, Nat”.
        Rich here wants to know how he too, can get remuneration for spamming and detailing threads.
        Do indulge him, “Nat”. Times are tough.

    • Where does it say “that”, exactly?
      Givat Ha’matos, will be a mixed neighbourhood, just like any other in Jerusalem
      You’re turning into “Nat” faster than I expected. Not an auspicious sign. At least “Nat”-’s being paid for his trolling.

    • Presumably Richard you find Mahmoud Abbas’ commitment that a future Palestine will be 100% Jew free completely wholesome? I suppose you must regard the Arabs as inferior if you dont hold them to the same moral standards as the West? Israel doesn’t have the post-colonial hangups of the West. It recognises what any normal person does – ‘normal’ being anyone not addled by the subversive Marxist nostrums of political correctness – that people like to live with their own and the basis of good community relations is that this is respected. Only a Jew-hater would try to turn Israel’s accommodation of it’s Arab population into something sinister.

      Somehow M/s Plett neglects to mention in her report that when Israel re-unified Jerusalem all three religions had the right to worship freely. Her ‘fact selection’ is hardly unbiased.

    • Yes, that’s precisely what I’m saying.
      And I’ll ask you again, where does it say, quote, “Jews will live here and Arabs will live there…”?
      The vast majority of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods are ethnically diverse.

      • Well ok but the Jerusalem authorities seem very clear, according to Hadar, about how many Jews, how many Arabs….. And Adam doesn’t agree with you. He speaks of the proposed E1 development as a development of Jewish housing. No matter.

        That was a diversion the main point is the soundness of the BBC report.

        • If you had bothered to read the article, linked to by Ms. Sela, you’d have read about the Municipality’s plan to extend Beit Sfafa, thereby enabling, due to natural demographic growth, Arabs in Beit Sfafa to continue to reside in the area.
          There’s nothing wrong with that.
          E1 =/ Givat Hamatos/Jerusalem. And, I’m sure you’d be surprised to find that Arabs do reside, for instance, in Maaleh Adumim.
          The reason, I suspect Mr. Levick is referring to “Jewish housing” is because that’s precisely what got Europe so incensed.
          When Bedouins established illegal outposts, in Area C, Europe was markedly silent. When Israel builds there, persuant to Oslo, it is vociferously attacked. That’s hypocrisy.
          “Soundness of the report”; well, let’s put it this way: both the NYT, and the WaPo issued corrections on the issue of E1 “cutting away E. Jerusalem, bisecting the Pal. State”, etc.
          The BBC could’ve avoided doing that. It didn’t. That’s “unsound”.
          http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=35&x_article=2357

          • OK Let us take it one tiny step at a time. East Jerusalem is ( in ) Israel right ? You Know like East Hull is ( in ) The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

          • May I ask, where this is headed?(And yes, to your question)
            So far, it looks like you’re building a crescendo which you hope will culminate with fanfares of “Zio-fascists”(as you’re fond of doing);
            Alas, better bear T. S. Eliot in mind: “It ends not with a bang, but with a whimper…”

          • Well you quoted E0Z as saying that East Jerusalem have the right to become citizens ( not quite true they are able to apply ) Does it not strike you as odd that people have to APPLY for citizenship of the state that has sovereignty over territory into which they were born? I mean if say a Jewish woman and an Arab women in East Jerusalem had babies one day, lets say yesterday, would those babies both be citizens?

            I don’t recall applying for citizenship.

          • Those that have Israeli citizenship, needn’t actually reapply for their descendants.
            The problem has always been the continued rejection of these Arabs to actually take up Israeli citizenship.

          • But surely they are automatically citizens.They are living in land into which they were born. Why does the question even arise ? I don’t recall having to ” take up ” British citizenship.

            ” Take up ” I assume is code for ” apply ” .

            And how about the East Jerusalem bookseller that was born there, whose ascendents back to at least five generations, were born there, whose residency is on the basis of recurring three month tourist visas. What is all that about ?

          • “But surely they’re automatically citizens…”
            Yes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_nationality_law

            A child born to an Israeli citizen (including children born outside of Israel as first generation out of Israel) is considered an Israeli citizen.

            As for any anecdotal, quaint, and pliant “Booksellers” — I would need some evidence, and facts, to examine a particular case.
            You won’t find however a single resident of E. Jerusalem denied his right to citizenship(unless of course, they, at a certain point, left Israel — BEFORE obtaining their passport).
            There is certainly no such thing as a “three month tourist visa” — I guess your PSC handbook also tells you to make it up, as you go along. Refreshing, really.
            Back in the real world, many are flocking to Israeli auspices:
            http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/jerusalem-arabs-are-applying-for.html

          • You’re not a native of E. Jerusalem.
            Nice to see that you still can’t address the facts.
            The PSC is really hiring oafs these days. Oh well.

  4. Oh dear; not “Tears for Terrorists” cry-baby Plett again. Duvidl had thought she had been made to walk the plank to Pakistan after crying a bucketload over child molester terrorist Arafat’s death.

    Child molesters do appear to elicit considerable BBC compassion. There have been eight arrests to date by the police Operation Yewtree investigation into five decades of sex offences by the late Sir Jimmy Savile and others at the BBC.

  5. Indeed, a Plett-poem does not seem disproportionate:

    Polonium Tears

    Plett doesn’t like to cavill
    At sex crimes by Jimmy Savile.
    She would far rather rail
    About town planning in Israel,
    Or cry for the BBC,
    Ignoring Yassir’s buggery.
    Now they’ve exhumed him, her encomium
    Could include tears of polonium.

  6. Plett has so obviously ‘gone native’, as evidenced by her tearful, emotional farewell to the father of modern terrorism, that it is beyond belief that the BBC is still using her in this region.

    Doing so makes a complete mockery of its very own editorial guidelines on impartiality. Do BBC managers not read their own guidelines, or are they written simply to provide window dressing in the event of a complaint?

  7. The following statement by Plett was interesting:

    “which would cut Palestinians in East Jerusalem off from their West Bank hinterland”

    So we have some movement here – the initial outcry was that the tiny area of E-1 (about 4 sq. miles) would cut the WB in half, preventing a contiguous Palestinian state.

    Eventually perhaps she and the EU politcos will look at a a map and finally get a grasp on reality.

  8. Let’s put this ‘international recognition’ into some perspective.
    What is the yardstick used?

    If we look at how many of the countries established its borders and territories, we see that they did it by force. The USA forced out the Indians, the UK forced out the Aborigine in Australia, and the Maoris in New Zealand. France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, to name but a few, all have a share of taking over territory that was not even on their borders.

    So why are any of them ‘internationally recognised’?
    Why are they part of the ‘nationals in the ‘international’?
    Seems that the ‘rules’ being applied to Israel are very different from those they applies to themselves, yet somehow they want to consider themselves moral and ethical.

    Israel fought off successive enemies who wanted to destroy it completely and drive every Jew into the sea. The same enemies never accepted a legal boundary or border to define its own territory, so what ‘recognition’ by any moral standard is possible?

    If Israel would have acted as just about every other nation has done throughout history, they would have been ‘justified’ in driving their neighbours into the sea and claiming a lot more territory than is being disputed today.

    But they didn’t, and instead of being lauded for their real humanity and morality, the other nations of the world use some exalted sense of sanctimonious piety, which is in reality a cowardly appeasement of foul barbarians, to think they have the right to tell Israel where it should build or not.

    I’d genuinely like a debate on this issue as I think it really has merit, but I’m willing to consider all sides.

    • Teddy Bear I would be happy to debate that with you. Provide email address. Remember we used to hang draw and quarter folks in public, bait bears etc. It’s a that was then this is now thing. Are you saying Israel is lagging behind the now more or less civilised world on an an evolution of sensibilities thing ?

      • Give me your home address first and I’ll give you my email.

        Are you saying Israel is lagging behind the now more or less civilised world on an an evolution of sensibilities thing ?

        If you understood my post you would know that I am saying Israel is LEADING the civilised world in not doing what other nations have done throughout history.

    • they would have been ‘justified’ in driving their neighbours into the sea and claiming a lot more territory than is being disputed today.

      Except that the China sea is a long ” drive “.

      Exactly. If you look through the lens of History you will sea lots of stuff that makes Assad look good. After the 2nd world war the ” civilised ” world decided to move on. It hasn’t moved as far as one might wish but Israel is lagging behind, at least in the sense that it refuses to accept the modern convention ( law ) of the inadmissability of the acquisition of territory through war.

      • RZ _ I know you want to appear clever, and if you made a better attempt to address the points I raised, in the context I raised them, you’d do a better job.

        According to Resolution 242, there is no Israeli obligation to withdraw prior to the achievement of a comprehensive peace. Nor is there any requirement of Israel to withdraw fully from the territories it captured in 1967. Your statement about acquisition of territory through war is bullshit, and you know it, because it doesn’t relate to a defensive war, and the right of a nation to have defensible borders.

        If you have to purposefully lie and try to cheat in order to win an argument – then you know you already have lost.

        Why did you use the name RealZionist when you know you are anything but?

        • 4th Geneva Convention,,,,” the inadmissability of thr acquisition of territory by war ”

          RES 242 ” the inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by war…”

          There is no right of a nation to have what it deems to be defensible borders. Where on earth did you get that from ?

          In any event Israel’s internationally recognised borders have proved to be perfectly defensible how many times now ?

          And to be honest I am getting bored with legal crap and history. All just of academic interest.

          • You’re an idiot RZ!
            The Legal Significance of Resolution 242
            Resolution 242 applies only to “every state in the area” of the Middle East. It states explicitly that it is necessary to establish “secure and recognized boundaries.”

            I can understand you want to avoid dealing with ‘the legal crap’ as you call it. You and your kind have shown themselves time and time again not to be very good at it.

  9. richardarmbach: “Does it not strike you as odd that people have to APPLY for citizenship of the state that has sovereignty over territory into which they were born?”

    That is a really great point and were the principle applied to Palestinian refugees, there would be no refugee problem would there?

    As things stand though, the sanctimonious FOs that are now censuring Israel, have for decades supported policies that through the lens of history, discriminate against Jews in the Middle East. Israel should do what it must.

    • That is a really great point and were the principle applied to Palestinian refugees, there would be no refugee problem would there?

      Brad I entirely agree with you. We are where we are. The circumstances in which Israel came to be wasn’t pretty but no worse than the circumstances in which many other ” western ” nations came to be. That was then this is now. The ” refugee ” issue should be restricted to those that actually sought refuge. Folks born in Jordan are Jordanian etc ( or should be ). They are not granted citizenship of these countries for propaganda reasons.A lot of personal tragedies but they are irreversible. We are where we are.

    • Richard, I have shown how israel is facing gross hypocrisy. In that situation, options are limited. Not doing what one must has other consequences and the critics are insincere. Obeying the critics, leaving Gaza e.g., has proven to be a mistake. The critics have shown that their default position is anti-Israel; I am talking about the western nations.

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