BBC continues to yawn at PA glorification of terrorism

We have noted here on numerous occasions in the past that the consistent glorification of terrorism by official Palestinian Authority bodies is systematically unreported by the BBC.  

Recently, yet another example of that practice came to light when the Palestinian Authority chose to name a forest after the terrorist leader and planner of numerous terror attacks Khalil al Wazir – a.k.a. Abu Jihad.PMW forest

Via PMW we learn that:

“The official Palestinian Authority daily reported that the PA and Fatah inaugurated a forest they chose to name after arch-terrorist Abu Jihad: “The Martyr Abu Jihad Forest.”

Abu Jihad was a founder of Fatah and deputy to Yasser Arafat. He headed the PLO’s military wing and planned many deadly terror attacks. These attacks, which according to the official PA daily killed at least 125 Israelis, included the most lethal in Israeli history – the hijacking of a bus and killing of 37 civilians, 12 of them children.  […]

The inauguration ceremony was attended by several PA officials: Minister of Agriculture Walid Assaf, District Governor of Hebron Kamel Hamid and representatives of the PA Security Forces, as well as several mayors from the Hebron district and relatives of terrorist Abu Jihad, the paper reported. 

Official PA TV also showed footage from the ceremony. “

Can we really imagine that if the Northern Ireland Assembly chose to name a forest after an IRA terrorist and to televise the inauguration ceremony on state-run TV, that would not make BBC headlines? 

We’ve said it before, but unfortunately we have to say it again: BBC audiences cannot reach an “understanding of international issues” if the habitual glorification of terrorists and terrorism by a party to the peace process is consistently and deliberately kept out of their view.

Related Articles:

Airbrushing terror: the BBC on Abu Jihad

 

Another report on talks impasse fails to break the BBC mould

On April 9th an article appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website under the title “Israel PM Netanyahu curbs contacts with Palestinians“. The report opens:curbs contacts art main

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told his ministers to stop high-level meetings with their Palestinian counterparts.”

Only from the fifth paragraph onwards are readers informed that the issue is a lot less dramatic than the BBC’s initial presentation may have led them to believe.

“The government officials said Israel’s chief peace negotiator, Tzipi Livni, would be an exception from the PM’s edict.

Defence and security officials will also be allowed to continue to engage with the Palestinians, according to reports.

Otherwise, only low-level co-operation will be permitted.”

As has been the case in previous BBC reports on the impasse in the current round of negotiations between Israel and the PLO, this report fails to clarify to audiences that the commitment on the part of the Palestinians not to apply to join UN agencies was part and parcel of the initial agreement which preceded the current round of talks (as recently confirmed by the PA president’s spokesman) and not just an understanding on the part of Israel as has repeatedly been implied by the BBC.

“The order follows “Palestinians’ violation of their commitments under peace talks”, officials said.

It comes after a request by the Palestinians to join 15 UN treaties and conventions as a state party.”

The report goes on to quote and promote unnamed “correspondents”, providing no information which would enable audiences to assess the relevance or validity of the claim made by those anonymous sources.

“Correspondents say Mr Netanyahu’s action has dealt another blow to the faltering US-brokered peace process.”

Under a sub-heading of “Unhelpful” the report goes on to promote the notion of equivalence as has been the case in previous BBC reports on the same topic.

“On Tuesday, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the US would continue to promote the talks despite recent setbacks.

He blamed both sides for taking “unhelpful” steps.

The peace talks resumed in July under US auspices after a three-year hiatus.

Each side blames the other for violating previous promises.”

The article continues:

“The Palestinians were furious when Israel did not sanction the release of a fourth batch of prisoners, as agreed in principle under the terms on which the Palestinians returned to peace talks last year. The Palestinians wanted the group to include a number of Israeli Arab prisoners.”

Once again, no attempt is made to explain to BBC audiences the significance and implications of the Palestinian demand for the release of prisoners who are Israeli citizens.

That particular section of the article is illustrated using the photograph below, captioned “Israel has announced plans to build about 700 new homes in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem” and the same claim is reiterated in the body of the article, with no mention of the fact that the relevant tenders –situated in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo – had already been issued six months previously, meaning that the proposed oddly termed “settlement units” are therefore obviously not “new”. No attempt is made to clarify to audiences that limits on Israeli construction were not part of the agreed terms which preceded the recommencement of negotiations. 

“They [the Palestinians] were further angered by Israel’s approval of about 700 new settlement units in East Jerusalem.”

curbs contacts art pic

The report continues with the standard BBC insert which both fails to clarify to audiences the status of the relevant parts of Jerusalem before 1967 (occupied for 19 years by Jordan after its invasion of foreign territory) and breaches BBC editorial guidelines by failing to inform audiences that other legal interpretations of “international law” exist.

“Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and formally annexed the area in 1980. Settlements built there and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

The article goes on to once again present aspects of the agreement which preceded the latest round of talks as though they were Israeli interpretation only and fails to clarify to readers that those points were actually part and parcel of the agreement.

“Israel stressed that it had predicated any prisoner release on progress being made in the negotiations and on the Palestinians abiding by a commitment not to seek membership of international agencies.”

As has been the case with all previous BBC reports on this topic, this article continues to avoid informing BBC audiences about crucial background factors which have contributed to the current impasse including the PA’s refusal (with Arab League support) to renounce future claims and thus bring an end to the conflict by recognizing Israel as the Jewish state.

In fact, in all its coverage so far of the topic of the current round of negotiations, the BBC has systematically avoided informing its audiences of the importance and significance of the issue of Palestinian – and wider Arab – recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and as time goes on, it is increasingly difficult to attribute that glaring omission to mere oversight.

Related Articles:

BBC already setting the scene for ME talks collapse

BBC’s Knell amplifies PA narrative, mainstreams BDS on late-night BBC Radio 5

BBC continues to present an incomplete picture of Israel-PLO talks

BBC’s selective omissions slant audience view of Israel-PLO talks

BBC opts for equivalence in report on talks breakdown

Crucial background to floundering of ME talks still outside the BBC’s frame

BBC claims final tranche of prisoner release included “hundreds” – reader secures correction

Misleading BBC audiences through failure to correct inaccurate terminology

Although it might be glaringly obvious to most of us, the simple fact that the BBC cannot hope to meet its public purpose remit of building “a global understanding of international issues” and enabling “individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues” if it allows audiences to be misled through the use of inaccurate terminology appears to escape the corporation itself.

On April 3rd BBC World News America broadcast an interview with former US president Jimmy Carter which was also featured on the ‘US & Canada’ page of the BBC News website. During that interview, Carter said: Carter int

“…President Obama made a good start in Cairo when he announced that there wouldn’t…to be no more settlements in Palestinian territory and that the 1967 borders would prevail.”

Anchor Katty Kay made no attempt whatsoever to clarify to audiences that no Israeli communities exist in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip or in the Palestinian Authority-controlled Areas A & B as defined under the Oslo accords. Neither did she bother to point out that the status of Area C – the part of Judea & Samaria in which Israeli communities are located – is subject to final status negotiations under the terms of those same accords and hence, with the agreement of the Palestinians seeing as their representatives willingly signed those accords, cannot currently be described accurately as “Palestinian territory”.

Likewise, Kay made no attempt to intervene to dispel the misleading impression created by Carter that such a thing as “1967 borders” exists. She did not clarify that what the former president referred to are in fact the 1949 armistice lines and made no effort to explain to audiences that the text of the armistice agreement specifically states that those lines do not constitute a border.

“Article II

With a specific view to the implementation of the resolution of the Security Council of 16 November 1948, the following principles and purposes are affirmed:

1. The principle that no military or political advantage should be gained under the truce ordered by the Security Council is recognized;

2. It is also recognized that no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.”

“Article VI

9. The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.”

In just one sentence Carter managed to conjure up a double-headed chimera which misleads, confuses and actively hinders BBC audiences’ understanding of two important issues underlying the subject matter of that part of Kay’s interview. Katty Kay’s failure to challenge Carter’s inaccurate terminology obviously breaches BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy.

Related Articles:

BBC defends employee’s use of term ‘Jewish lobby’

Jimmy Carter, History and the Jewish State (CAMERA)

BBC promotes the false concept of ’1967 borders’

 

BBC claims final tranche of prisoner release included “hundreds” – reader secures correction

Another day: another BBC article on the subject of the stalled talks between Israel and the PLO which does little to inform BBC audiences of the complete background to the current impasse.

Having covered the subject in five previous reports published throughout the ten days between March 26th and April 4th (see related articles below), the BBC News website published an additional report on April 6th titled “Netanyahu: Israel will answer Palestinian unilateralism“.

Based on remarks made by Israel’s prime minister at the weekly cabinet meeting on the same day, the report has little to contribute to audience understanding of the topic. Like its predecessors, this article fails to fully inform audiences of the background to the story, preferring instead to once again present an equivocally framed picture of events. 

Bizarrely, it was claimed in the original version of this report that: [emphasis added]

“Earlier this week, Israel cancelled plans to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, arguing that Mr Abbas’s decision to sign up to several international conventions at the UN had violated the conditions for the release.

The Palestinians however say that Israel had already reneged on a commitment to free the prisoners.”

Netanyahu talks art 6 4. hundreds

In fact, twenty-six releases – not “hundreds” – were scheduled for the end of March (dependent upon progress in the talks – of which there was little), with 78 prisoners having already been freed in the previous three tranches under the terms of the agreement which preceded the return to negotiations.

“Under the terms of the agreement last July that enabled the current round of negotiations – which is set to expire on April 29 – Israel was to release 104 Palestinian security prisoners in four phases, and the Palestinians were to refrain from unilateral moves in the international arena.”

The BBC appears to have conflated the original July 2013 agreement with an offer (which, ironically, it has so far failed to report) made by Israel to the US Secretary of State in order to encourage the Palestinian Authority to continue negotiations after the April 29th dead-line which was publicized on the morning of April 1st. Inter alia, according to the terms of that offer, in addition to the fourth tranche of 26 prisoners:

“Israel would release an additional 400 Palestinian prisoners during the continuing negotiation period. These prisoners would be picked by Israel, include many minors and women, and not include those with “blood on their hands.” “

That offer was however rendered irrelevant by the Palestinian president’s live televised signing of applications to join assorted UN agencies on the afternoon of the same day – in violation of the July 2013 agreement which preceded the recommencement of negotiations, in which the PA committed to not applying to the UN throughout the period of talks scheduled to close on April 29th.

The BBC’s failure to clarify to audiences that Abbas’ signing of the UN applications did indeed violate the terms of the agreement reached before the talks recommenced – and its framing of that issue as an Israeli claim alone – is clearly as misleading to BBC audiences as its gross inflation of the number of prisoners scheduled for release.

The latter point has meanwhile been corrected following a complaint made to the BBC News website’s Middle East desk by a reader, to which the following response was received.

“We have corrected the story and published a note at the end explaining the changes. We are grateful to you for pointing out the mistake and apologise for the error.”

On April 7th the paragraph concerned was amended and another added. That section of the article now reads:

“Earlier this week, Israel cancelled plans to free a final batch of Palestinian prisoners, arguing that Mr Abbas’s decision to sign up to several international conventions at the UN had violated the conditions for the release.

The Palestinians however say that Israel had already reneged on a commitment to free the prisoners.

Israel has so far freed 78 prisoners in three rounds of releases – part of a deal under which both sides agreed to resume peace talks last July.”

A footnote was appended to the report.

correction article netanyahu mepp

One does have to wonder how such an obvious factual inaccuracy managed to slip past fact checking and editorial processes. 

Related Articles:

 BBC already setting the scene for ME talks collapse

BBC continues to present an incomplete picture of Israel-PLO talks

BBC’s selective omissions slant audience view of Israel-PLO talks

BBC opts for equivalence in report on talks breakdown

Crucial background to floundering of ME talks still outside the BBC’s frame

 

 

Crucial background to floundering of ME talks still outside the BBC’s frame

On April 4th a report appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website under the title “Kerry calls for ‘reality check’ in Mid-East peace talks“. Based on remarks made by the US Secretary of State during a visit to Morocco, the article makes repeat use of the theme of equivalence promoted in previous recent coverage of the floundering talks between Israel and the PLO (see ‘related articles’ below) and is blighted by the same omission of crucial information which compromises audience understanding of the events which led to the current crisis. Kerry Morocco art

Throughout the report the BBC herds audiences towards an equivocal appraisal of the situation. The caption to the first image chosen to illustrate the report reads:

“Israel and the Palestinians have traded blame for the latest crisis in the talks”.

In the body of the article readers are told that:

“He [Kerry] spoke after steps taken by Israel and the Palestinians in the past two days which each side said violated previous promises.”

And:

“However, Washington has expressed exasperation at what it calls “unhelpful, unilateral actions” taken by both sides.”

And:

“The talks, which resumed in July under US auspices after a three-year hiatus, appeared to be on the point of breaking down this week, with Israel and the Palestinians blaming the other.” [all emphasis added]

In short, rather than fulfilling its role of building “a global understanding of international issues”, the BBC has again opted to avoid presenting audiences with the full picture.

The sequence of events leading up to the current impasse as presented by the BBC in this report begins as follows:

“The Palestinians were furious when Israel did not sanction the release of a fourth batch of Palestinian and Israeli-Arab prisoners, as agreed in principle under the terms on which the Palestinians returned to peace talks last year.”

The report does not clarify that the postponement of the fourth tranche of prisoner releases came after little if any progress had been made throughout eight months of negotiations – with direct talks having not taken place for months – and against the backdrop of the Palestinian Authority’s refusal (with Arab League backing) to agree to security arrangements in the Jordan Rift Valley and its refusal (again with Arab League support) to announce an end to future claims – and thereby an end to the conflict – by recognizing Israel as the Jewish state.

Although this report improves on previous ones by at least mentioning the potential inclusion of Arab-Israeli prisoners in the fourth tranche of prisoner releases, the BBC continues to avoid informing audiences of the fact that the inclusion of those particular prisoners had not been part of the agreement reached at the outset of the talks and that it was in fact a demand made by the Palestinian Authority. Once again, no effort is made to explain to readers the highly problematic aspects of this attempt by the PA to claim to represent citizens of another country and the clear interference in Israeli sovereignty that demand signifies. Neither is any effort made to explain to readers the potential political fallout for Israel’s coalition government which could be brought about by any release of Arab-Israeli prisoners.

The BBC’s suggestion that Israel reneged on a release of “Israeli-Arab prisoners, as agreed in principle” is contradicted by its own report from July 30th 2013 in which it was clearly stated that the identities of the prisoners scheduled for release – to be decided by Israel under the terms of the agreement – had not been publicized.

“Also on Sunday, the Israeli cabinet approved the release of 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners by 13 votes to seven.

The inmates are to be released in four stages over a number of months, linked to progress in the peace process.

Their identities have not been published, but according to reports they include those who have killed Israelis or Palestinian informers.”

Despite its having previously reported the fact that the prisoner releases were defined at the outset of this round of talks as being tied to their progress, the BBC’s ‘sequence’ in this report continues by opting to present that fact as an Israeli claim:

“Israel stressed that it had predicated any release on progress being made in the negotiations and on the Palestinians abiding by a commitment not to seek membership of international agencies.

Cabinet members also said they would block a release unless the Palestinians agreed to extend the talks beyond 29 April, the date by which the US had said it had hoped to reach a full agreement.”

Like its predecessors on the same topic, this report fails at this point to mention the supplementary concessions offered by Israel as an incentive to continue the talks after the April 29th deadline – including the release of an additional 400 prisoners and a commitment not to release any new building tenders for Judea & Samaria.

The BBC’s ‘sequence’ continues:

“The Palestinians however said they would not agree to extend the talks unless the prisoners were freed and accused Israel of reneging on the deal. […]

On Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed applications to join 15 international conventions which Palestinian officials said was a response to Israel’s failure to release the prisoners. Israel fears the Palestinians will use the treaties as a legal tool against it and to further enhance statehood which is subject to the negotiations.

It officially cancelled the prisoner release on Thursday in response to Mr Abbas’s move.”

At this point the report should have clarified that the talks’ ‘pre-nup’ included a specific commitment by the PA not to make such applications to the UN (as recently confirmed by the PA president’s spokesman) and it should also have  informed readers of the additional new demands presented by the Palestinian Authority as condition for the extension of talks – but no mention whatsoever of those new demands is made.

Clearly, so much crucial information is being systematically left outside the BBC’s framing of this story that audiences cannot hope to develop a fact-based coherent understanding of this particular international issue.

Related Articles:

 BBC already setting the scene for ME talks collapse

BBC continues to present an incomplete picture of Israel-PLO talks

BBC’s selective omissions slant audience view of Israel-PLO talks

BBC opts for equivalence in report on talks breakdown

 

 

BBC opts for equivalence in report on talks breakdown

On the afternoon of April 3rd a report appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website under the title “Israel cancels Palestinian prisoner release“. The article underwent numerous changes until the appearance of its final version, as can be viewed here. Its presentation on the Middle East page included two links to ‘related stories’: one to the BBC’s July 2013 “History of Mid-East peace talks” and another to the outdated backgrounder titled “Q&A: Israeli-Palestinian talks in Jerusalem”.

The article’s outstanding feature is its transparent attempt to promote to BBC audiences the notion of equivalence in both its wording and through the images used. The two photographs below are prominently featured in the body of the report.

Pris release 3 4 pics equivalence

In the article’s text, readers are informed that:

“The previous three releases of Palestinian prisoners were deeply unpopular with the Israeli public because many of those freed had been convicted of murdering Israelis.”

Following that laconic statement, audiences are then told:

“But the Palestinians – many of whom regard the prisoners as heroes – believed the final batch of prisoners would be freed under a US deal that got the talks started last year.”

Once again – as was the case in the BBC’s previous two articles on the topic of the floundering talks – audiences are not informed that the Palestinian Authority’s stance concerning the fourth tranche of prisoner releases included the demand to free prisoners who are Israeli citizens and consequently they also remain unaware of the implications of that demand.

The article states:

“Israel has cancelled the release of a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners over the Palestinian leadership’s pursuit of further UN recognition.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Palestinian actions had violated the terms of the release, which was part of a US-backed peace process.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has applied to 15 UN conventions, accusing Israel of backtracking on its promises.”

Although the BBC quotes Israel’s negotiator Tzipi Livni as saying that Mahmoud Abbas’ application to join assorted UN conventions “violated the terms of the release”, no attempt is made to properly clarify to audiences that in the run-up to the talks the PA specifically committed itself to refraining from just such a move for their nine-month duration which does not expire until April 29th. Neither is it made clear to audiences that the prisoner releases were subject to progress in the talks – of which there has been little – and recent statements by Palestinian officials concerning the prisoner releases are of course excluded from view.

Later on the article states that: Pris release main

“In recent days, the US had reportedly been trying to broker a deal in which the Palestinians would agree to extend the peace talks beyond the end of April deadline in exchange for the releasing of prisoners by Israel, and the US would free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in return.”

As was the case when a similar statement was made in a previous BBC report on the issue, audiences are not informed of the full extent of that proposed deal and Israeli concessions are downplayed.

“The negotiations would continue into January 2015, during which time the Palestinians would commit themselves not to engage in diplomatic warfare against Israel by going to international organizations for recognition. […]

Israel would release an additional 400 Palestinian prisoners during the continuing negotiation period. These prisoners would be picked by Israel, include many minors and women, and not include those with “blood on their hands.”

Israel would “exercise restraint” in releasing government tenders for new homes in the West Bank, meaning that it would issue no new government tenders for housing in Judea and Samaria. This policy would not include Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line.

This policy would also exclude public building projects, such as roads.”

Significantly, the latest set of Palestinian demands for the continuation of negotiations –presented on April 2nd – is not mentioned at all in this BBC report.

 1. A written commitment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the borders of the Palestinian state will be along the 1967 ‘green-line’ and that its capital will be East Jerusalem.

2. The release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners, including political heavyweights Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Saadat and Fuad Shubkhi.

3. An end to the Egyptian-Israeli blockade on Gaza, and the formulation of dealing allowing the flow of goods into Gaza.

4. A halt in construction in East Jerusalem.

5. The IDF will not be allowed to enter Area A – the area of the West Bank under autonomous PA control since the Oslo Accords – to conduct arrests or assassinations

6. Israel will permit the PA control over Area C – currently under Israel’s control.

7. The Palestinians known as the Church of Nativity deportees– a group of terrorist who barricaded themselves in the Church of the Nativity on April 2, 2002 and were later deported to European nations and the Gaza Strip – will be allowed to return to the West Bank.

8. The reopening of a number of Palestinian development agencies Israel shut down. 

Additionally, once again we see that in this report – as in its predecessors – the BBC neglects to explain to audiences the significance of the PA’s crucial refusal (backed by the Arab League) to recognize Israel as the Jewish state and hence bring an end to any future claims and an end to the conflict.

The entire tone of this latest report on the subject of the talks can be summed up by looking at a statement by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly which appears in the body of the article and also in its side-box of ‘analysis’.

“Each side blames the other for initiating that sequence of backward steps. In theory they could be reversed and a limited agreement reached to extend talks beyond the current 29 April deadline but the prospects are not improving.”

In other words, equivalence is currently the name of the game for the BBC and the steering of audiences towards that view is achieved by selective presentation of information which includes downplaying Israeli offers of concessions and disappearing assorted Palestinian demands, as well as the continued presentation of a supposed moral equivalence between terrorist and victim. 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC’s Knell amplifies PA narrative, mainstreams BDS on late-night BBC Radio 5

On March 27th BBC Radio 5 live’s late night show ‘Up All Night’ featured an item with the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell. The programme can be heard here for a limited period of time and the relevant section begins from around 37:15. Up All Night

Presenter Rhod Sharp introduces the item:

“US Secretary of State John Kerry interrupted his trip to Europe on Wednesday to rush to Israel. He wanted to urge the Palestinians and Israelis to extend their peace talks which seem to be faltering maid fears that Israel may scrap plans to free a final batch of Palestinian prisoners. With more on this, I’ve been speaking to Yolande Knell on the West Bank.”

Kerry of course flew to Amman in Jordan – not to Israel.

Yolande Knell opens:

“He broke away from this trip – President Obama’s talks in Europe on the crisis in the Ukraine. I think the fact he’s done this just underscores the seriousness of the threat to the peace talks that he sees. Ahm…the peace talks of course going on between Israel and the Palestinians – a process in which he has invested so much energy already – and so what he did, he broke away…ahm…and came to Amman just yesterday and he is supposed to have had talks last night – after having a meeting with the King of Jordan – with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. We were told he was going to have a working dinner with him and he was supposed to speak to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by video conference or by phone as well.

And what US officials say is that his aim is to narrow the gaps in peace talks but really, if you speak to either side, they’ll say there’s been little real progress on the core issues but what’s thrown these talks into crisis right now…ahm…because they’re supposed to go on until the end of April – that was…when the US managed to broker a return to the negotiating table last year. But now we have the scheduled release of the fourth and final batch of more than a hundred Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails scheduled for this weekend. It was part of a deal that Israel struck with the Palestinians to get the peace talks restarted and what the Palestinians agreed was in return they wouldn’t take action against Israel at the UN…ahm… through the UN bodies to which they got access after their status was upgraded. And so…ah…really now Israel is saying it doesn’t want to go ahead with this prisoner release at the moment. There’s been talk of how the Palestinians should…ah…reach a framework agreement. We understand that the Americans are supposed to be putting a framework agreement to both sides before this happens. Ahm…and the Palestinians saying that if the prisoner release doesn’t happen as scheduled then they will perhaps go to the UN, take other means and the talks could very well fall apart.”

Knell makes no effort to inform listeners that the prisoner releases were from the very beginning tied to progress in the talks – which she admits has not been forthcoming. Neither of course does she bother to mention the incitement and glorification of terrorism which was seen during the Palestinian Authority organised celebrations of the three previous tranches or the cash hand-outs awarded to the released terrorists.

Sharp then asks:

RS: “Well but why would Israel not release the prisoners as scheduled?”

YK: “Well, these prisoner releases have been particularly divisive – in fact for both sides. What you’re talking about here is long-term Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Many of them have been convicted of serious offences like murdering Israelis so Israelis see them as convicted terrorists. On the Palestinian side, these are people who have sacrificed their lives in some way, with the long prison sentences that they’ve been through, for the nationalist cause.”

Knell’s promotion of the notion of terrorists convicted in a court of law as ‘heroes’ is of course not new: such portrayal was a hallmark of her reporting of previous prisoner releases and is part and parcel of the BBC’s policy of presentation of a morally equivalent view of terrorism – in some parts of the world.

She goes on:

“So already you have something which is a very emotive topic and then we’ve had Israeli families objecting to these releases – they’ve been staging protests – and what we’ve seen with all of the previous batches is that…ahm…those opposed within the Israeli coalition government, these have helped push through settlement announcements…ahm…which have threatened to undermine the peace talks repeatedly each time there has been a prisoner release. Ahm…and then you’ve got different people speaking out – different politicians – the deputy defence minister Danny Danon – a member of Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party – threatening to resign if this prisoner release went ahead.”

In other words, audiences are herded towards the view that Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorism does not “undermine the peace talks”, whereas Israeli building tenders most certainly do. Notably too, Knell completely neglects to inform listeners of the PA’s demand that in this particular tranche, Israel release convicted terrorists who are not residents of Palestinian controlled areas, but Israeli citizens.

Knell continues:

“Another thing that the Israelis seem to be worried about is they want assurances that Mr Abbas won’t walk away from the peace talks straight after this prisoner release because – as I say – if you speak to the Palestinians they’ll say that there has been no progress on the core issues on Jerusalem, the issue of Palestinian refugees, settlements and borders; the things that they want to talk about. They say that Israel has side-tracked the talks talking about the Jordan Valley….ahm….the Palestinians say they won’t give up control of their eastern border of the West Bank and Israel’s saying they want to keep a military presence there for security reasons.”

Beyond the fact that Knell has invented a Palestinian “eastern border” which does not exist, clearly her presentation of discussions on the subject of the Jordan Valley – in other words a discussion about borders – as having “side-tracked” the talks is an obvious and partial promotion of the PA’s narrative.  She goes on:

“And then there’s this other issue which has been so thorny as well, about recognising Israel as a Jewish state – that’s another one of Israel’s demands.”

The Israeli demand is of course for PA recognition of Israel as the Jewish state – not a Jewish state and as has been the case in all previous BBC coverage of this topic, no attempt whatsoever is made to inform audiences of the reasons for Israel’s demand and its significance as regards an end to future claims and hence its role in bringing about an end to the conflict. Sharp then says:

RS: “Let’s turn to the Arab League. Ah…here’s a thought: the Arab League of course has seemed a bit more modern in recent times but Arab leaders did what they’ve been quite used to doing in the past.”

Knell’s reply includes further promotion of the PA narrative through – inter alia – use of the offensive term “Judaisation of Jerusalem” and the depiction of Arab Israelis as “1948 Palestinians”.

YK: “Well, actually it all relates back to this Jewish state issue and it was one of the few points that the Arab leaders could all agree on after this two-day annual summit that’s just taken place in Kuwait. And the statement they ended with has actually strengthened Mr Abbas’ hand I think in many ways and made Mr Kerry’s job potentially more difficult because they came out with a statement saying that they totally rejected…ahm…. the call to consider Israel a Jewish state and then they also talked about other things like Jewish settlements, the Judaisation of Jerusalem – these kind of things. Ahm…they’d heard from President Abbas at the beginning of the summit when he said that Palestinians reject even discussing this issue of a Jewish state because for them it’s all caught up with the fate of Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes, who fled in 1948 when Israel became a state. Ahm….and also it’s about the rights of Arab Israelis – the 20% of the population of Israel who are these 1948 Palestinians as they’re also known – what of their rights if the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state? So it is a very complicated subject and that’s one that the Arab League countries – 22 of them – seem to have united on in terms of backing President Abbas and his stance.”

Knell makes no effort to explain to listeners that Palestinian refugees were not for the most part “forced out of their homes” but in many cases were urged to leave by the five Arab armies which instigated a war Knell does not apparently find it necessary to even mention. She neglects to inform audiences that PA recognition of Israel as the Jewish state in no way presents any kind of threat to the rights of Arab Israelis and she fails to make clear the ‘end game’ of the Palestinian demand for ‘right of return’ of refugees.

After Knell speaks about other Arab League related issues, Sharp says:

“Let’s turn away from politics. Well we think we’re turning away from politics to the world of entertainment but it seems that they have got awfully mixed up here. Why are the Rolling Stones in trouble?”

YK: “Well, they’re not in trouble with everybody. Certainly the Israelis are delighted with them at the moment because this week the Rolling Stones were officially booked basically to perform their first ever concert in Israel. It’s gonna be on the 4th of June we’re told in Tel Aviv and later today the tickets are expected to go on sale online and big prices: well over a hundred British pounds up to about 500 British pounds I’m told. Ahm…but yes there have been all sorts of puns in the Israeli press. After months – even years- of speculation, Israelis can finally get some satisfaction it said in the Jerusalem Post. But the people who are outraged are the Palestinians and supporters of the Palestinians because of course there is this call for a cultural boycott of Israel and protest at the occupation of Palestinian land by Israel with the occupation being seen as illegal under international law.”

Besides erroneously presenting the BDS movement as “supporters of the Palestinians” rather than a politically motivated campaign to delegitimise and dismantle Israel, Knell mainstreams the so-called “cultural boycott”, promotes the partisan narrative of “Palestinian land” and fails to inform listeners of the existence of alternative views regarding “international law”, in clear breach of BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.

Not for the first time by any means we see Yolande Knell acting as a mouthpiece for unadulterated amplification of the PA narrative in this radio interview. The type of terminology she chooses to use, her presentation of a morally equivalent view of terrorism and her mainstreaming of BDS are part and parcel of the promotion of that narrative.

Notably too, this interview joins numerous other BBC reports in failing to even try to clarify to BBC audiences the rationale behind the Israeli demand for recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and why the issue of that Palestinian – and wider Arab – recognition is crucial to the success of any agreement.

With the negotiations having reached such a critical point, it is vital that the BBC adhere to its public purposes and begin clarifying that issue to audiences.  

Related Articles:

BBC already setting the scene for ME talks collapse

BBC audiences are not being updated on ME talks

BBC continues to self-censor on the issue of PA recognition of Israel

Accuracy and impartiality issues in BBC report on Abbas White House visit

BBC’s Knell promotes already debunked claims in ‘Jewish state’ article

 

BBC News ‘analysis’ romanticises the Arab League

Below is an extract from an article titled “The deep discord bedevilling the Arab world” which appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on March 25thButt article Arab League

“This latest heads-of-state meeting, like all previous ones, is being convened by the Arab League, which was established nearly 70 years ago to foster mutual co-ordination in order to achieve “the close co-operation of the member-states”.

In the euphoria of that post-colonial independence era much more than co-operation seemed possible.

Millions of Arabs dreamed of smashing down the border fences erected by the British and French colonists to achieve unity from Morocco in the west to the Gulf states in the east.

All the ingredients seemed to be there as energetic young leaders took power: shared religion, language, history and culture – and a craving for a return of Arab self-esteem.”

Leaving aside the fact that the utopian dream of “smashing down the border fences” promoted here by the article’s writer Gerald Butt is contradicted even by the Arab League’s founding document which states clearly in Article 8 that each member country “shall pledge itself not to take any action tending to change” the form of government of the others, Butt also misleads BBC audiences by eliminating from view one very important part of the Arab League’s raison d’etre.

That same founding document – dating from March 22nd 1945 – includes an “annex on Palestine”. At its second session in December 1945 the Arab League declared a formal boycott of “Jewish products and manufactured [goods] in Palestine”, declaring them to be “undesirable in the Arab countries” and opining that “to permit them to enter the Arab countries would lead to the realization of the Zionist political objectives”.

Having already rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan, the day after Israel declared independence the Arab League issued a statement claiming that its members “found themselves compelled to intervene in Palestine solely in order to help its inhabitants restore peace and security and the rule of justice and law to their country, and in order to prevent bloodshed” - even as five of its member countries’ armies were in the process of invading the nascent Jewish state.

Of course for the subsequent 19 years, Jordan and Egypt occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively, with no attempt made to establish an independent Palestinian state in either of those regions during that time and with the charter of the PLO – established by the Arab League in 1964 – explicitly stating that it had no claims to either of the two areas. Eight Arab League member states were also responsible for the Khartoum Resolutions of 1967.

In other words, possibly the most outstanding product of 69 years of “close co-operation of the member-states” of the Arab League has been the perpetuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict and – rather than Butt’s touted pan-Arab “unity” – the discriminatory treatment of Palestinian refugees.

“In the year 1959 the Arab League accepted decision number 1457 and this is its text: “Arab states will reject the giving of citizenship to applicants of Palestinian origin in order to prevent their integration into the host countries.”.”

Given that Gerald Butt’s romanticized cameo of the Arab League totally ignores that major aspect of its existence (as well as its British Foreign Office midwife), it comes as little surprise that his article continues with the unsourced – and most likely unverifiable – assertion that the aspirations driving the ‘Arab Spring’ included “the plight of Palestinians” – which Arab League member countries have deliberately and cynically perpetuated for so long.

“But the hope was that they ["the new regimes"] would at least work together in the common cause of facing shared regional challenges: Israel, the plight of Palestinians, inequality in wealth distribution, youth unemployment, failing education systems, paltry intra-Arab investment, and so on.”

Whilst BBC audiences will certainly not have gleaned much accurate and realistic information about the Arab League from this article, they may at least perhaps have gained some insight into the writings of a former BBC Beirut and Jerusalem correspondent.

 

 

 

 

 

BBC audiences are not being updated on ME talks

With the end of the nine-month framework set for the current round of talks between Israel and the PLO rapidly approaching and apparently little headway having been made, it is obviously crucial that BBC audiences should be accurately informed with regard to the factors curtailing progress if they are to be able to “participate in the global debate on significant international issues” as pledged in the BBC’s public purpose remit. Core Issues main

In July 2013, as the talks were about to commence, the BBC News website produced a backgrounder intended to inform audiences about what it considered to be the five “Core Issues” of the negotiations: Jerusalem, borders, settlements, refugees and security.

Since its publication that backgrounder has not been updated to reflect developments over the past eight months. For example, in the section titled refugees the Palestinian position is presented thus:

“Formally, they maintain the “right of return”, arguing that without it a great injustice would not be put right. However, there has been regular talk among Palestinians that this “right” could be met by compensation. They refuse to recognise the concept of Israel as a “Jewish state”, saying that this is unnecessary and that it ignores the Israeli-Arab citizens of Israel.”

In other words, the BBC presents the Palestinian demand for the ‘right of return’ for refugees as a mere formality and herds audiences into believing that the issue will actually be resolved on a practical level by means of compensation.

Let’s take a look at what the PA president Mahmoud Abbas himself has had to say on the subject recently. 

On March 6th Abbas spoke before young activists from his own Fatah party, making it clear that his position (and presumably that of the PLO which he also heads) is not either ‘right of return’ or compensation as promoted by the BBC, but both.

“The Right of Return is a personal right. If you are a refugee, your son is a refugee as well. Perhaps you will decide to relinquish this right while your son decides not to, or vice versa. Your son is free to do so. When we say that this is a personal choice, it means that he can decide for himself. We will all be making a choice: One option is to remain where we are – in Jordan, in Syria, in Lebanon, and so on – and receive compensation…Of course…

“The second option is to go to another country, as part of an agreement. If someone wants to emigrate to Canada, he is free to do so. Wherever one goes, one remains a Palestinian. In this case, he will receive compensation as well.

“The third option is to decide to return to the Palestinian state, and to receive compensation.

He can also decide to return to the State of Israel. In such a case, he will receive compensation and return.

“These are the options that we place before the Palestinians. They will choose. If you want to stay where you are – fine. If you want to go abroad – fine. If you want to come to Palestine – fine. If you choose to return [to Israel] and hold Israeli citizenship… This is what it means. Someone asked me how he could become an Israeli citizen. I asked him if he wanted to continue to be stateless after he is back. He will be returning to the State of Israel.

“All the refugees who number 5 million today, along with their offspring, are considered 1948 refugees. There are no refugees who came from Nablus or Ramallah. They are all from Tiberius, Safed, Acre, Nazareth, Jaffa, Beersheba, and so on.” […] [emphasis added]

On March 9th Abbas received backing from the Arab League for his refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, with the implication of that being that there will also be no compromise on the issue of the ‘right of return’ not just on the part of the Palestinians, but also in the wider Arab world.

On March 17th Abbas visited Washington where he reportedly again rejected the idea of compromise on the ‘right of return’ issue.

“…Abbas rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He also refused to abandon the Palestinian demand for a “right of return” for millions of Palestinians and their descendants — a demand that, if implemented, would drastically alter Israel’s demographic balance and which no conceivable Israeli government would accept. And finally, he refused to commit to an “end of conflict,” under which a peace deal would represent the termination of any further Palestinian demands of Israel.”

In the past few weeks BBC audiences have been repeatedly told that “there has been little sign of progress” in the current negotiations. They are not, however, being informed as to why that is the case.

Related Articles:

Accuracy and impartiality issues in BBC report on Abbas White House visit

Why has the BBC stopped reporting on the Israel-PLO peace talks?

BACKGROUNDER: The Palestinian Claim to a “Right of Return” (CAMERA)

BBC continues to self-censor on the issue of PA recognition of Israel

Earlier this week we noted (not for the first time) that the BBC has so far failed to provide its audiences with the information necessary for them to comprehend the Israeli demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state within the framework of the ongoing negotiations.

No attempt whatsoever has been made by the BBC to clarify the significance of that demand as a way of ensuring that the agreement currently under negotiation would bring a real and lasting conclusion to the conflict by ending any potential future demands based on claim of Israel as ‘Palestinian’ or ‘Arab’ land. 

This week, in an article about Mahmoud Abbas’ recent visit to Washington, the BBC informed audiences that “[t]he Palestinians recognise the State of Israel” and amplified the PA’s ‘reasons’ for its refusal to recognise Israel as the Jewish state. It has however consistently failed to inform audiences that even as negotiations are ongoing, the Palestinian Authority still continues to promote to its citizens the exact opposite message: the notion of Israel as ‘Palestinian’ land.

The image below (courtesy of PMW) was broadcast on official PA television last month. The caption underneath the map which eradicates Israel completely reads “Palestine: A number that is indivisible.”

PMW image 1

The Facebook page of Fatah (headed by Mahmoud Abbas and the largest faction in the PLO which is conducting the current negotiations) stated on March 5th:

“We educate our children on the national anthem every morning. They will memorize the anthem of ‘return’; they will engrave the four-colored [Palestinian] flag on their hearts; they will learn the foundations of the revolution before they learn to read and write; they will only agree to one rule, which cannot be added to, subtracted from, or calculated: that Palestine cannot be divided.” 

PMW explains:

“The text was accompanied by a photo of a teacher pointing to a map of “Palestine” replacing all of Israel drawn on the blackboard, with the explanatory text rejecting Israeli jurisdiction over Israeli cities: “Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Ramle, Safed, Beit Shean, were and will remain Palestinian cities.” “

PMW image 2

If BBC audiences are to be able to reach informed opinions on the subject of the current talks between Israel and the PLO and on the broader issue of the peace process in general – as pledged under the terms of the BBC’s public purpose remit – it is obvious that they must be provided with more than just the trite slogan of “[t]he Palestinians recognise the State of Israel” without any additional insight into the dissonance between that assertion and the messages promoted by the Palestinian Authority to its own people. Only if they are aware of that dissonance will BBC audiences be able to fully understand why Israel insists upon Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state.

So far, however, the BBC continues to self-censor on the issue of the PA’s external and internal messaging.

Related Articles:

Accuracy and impartiality issues in BBC report on Abbas White House visit

BBC’s Knell promotes already debunked claims in ‘Jewish state’ article