BBC World Service gives inaccurate report on the ceasefire that wasn’t

As readers are no doubt already aware, the ‘ceasefire’ of July 15th lasted a mere six hours due to the fact that terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip did not cease their fire of missiles into Israel.

However, a BBC World Service radio programme – BBC World Update: Daily Commute – which was broadcast at 05:30 US Eastern time (12:30 Israel time) on July 15th – i.e. three and a half hours after the ceasefire supposedly came into effect, – gives some interesting indications regarding the BBC’s already emerging framing of the topic of the ceasefire.WS Daily Commute

The programme (available here as a podcast for a limited period of time) is presented by Dan Damon who opens by saying: [all emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in original]

“Coming up: the Israeli security cabinet has accepted a ceasefire proposal by Egypt but the armed wing of Hamas in Gaza rejects that. Where does that leave the current strife?”

A newsreader then tells listeners:

“The Israeli security cabinet has approved an Egyptian proposal for a truce in its week-long conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza. Almost 200 Palestinians have been killed in the latest conflict, many of them civilians.”

The news bulletin then moves on to an interview with James Reynolds in Tel Aviv, after which the newsreader introduces Yolande Knell.

Knell: “The military wing of Hamas has said that the terms being offered by the Egyptians would amount to a surrender and is continuing to insist on its own conditions which include the release of Hamas activists from Israeli jails and also an opening of the border crossings between the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt. That said, we have to say on the ground here, what we have seen over the past few hours is certainly a much lower intensity of fighting.”

The programme then returns to Dan Damon.

“…this morning some glimmers that an end to the violence that has claimed almost 200 Palestinian lives in the past week might be at an end. The Israeli security cabinet this morning agreed an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire. Let’s talk to Kevin Connolly, our correspondent in Jerusalem. It’s reported, Kevin, that Hamas rejected that proposal and I think there’s been further development.”

Kevin Connolly: “Well what we have here at the moment is half a ceasefire in the sense that Israel has accepted it. Hamas for the time being has not and the military wing of Hamas in Gaza has really been talking down the proposal from Egypt which is on the table. Now that’s not to say that Hamas won’t eventually be talked round by the Egyptians but for the moment, as I say, we have half a ceasefire.”

DD: “And it’s difficult, I guess, to understand completely what the mood is inside the Palestinian territories where you are but surely after nearly 200 deaths on one side and…eh…some injuries on the Israeli side, the people inside Gaza must be desperate for some kind of a ceasefire.”

KC: “I haven’t the slightest doubt that Palestinian civilians in Gaza – we talk to our people there every day, of course – are desperate for an end to the suffering and destruction. Hospitals there are struggling to treat the injured, many people are homeless, people are – you know – living in terrifying circumstances. Nothing is more terrifying than being bombed from the air. But politically of course, Hamas also has an agenda here. Having embarked on this round of hostilities, I think it is going to feel that it can’t emerge from them without some kind of political victory to show its people, so something is going to have to be found to allow Hamas an elegant way out, if you like, of the fighting.”

DD: “And what would be called a victory? What would be a victory from Hamas’ point of view?”

KC: “Well it’s given us quite a long list of demands. One of the things it would like – which is unlikely, I think – is to see Israel releasing Hamas prisoners, some of whom have been rounded up over the last couple of weeks. But a more important strategic goal for Hamas and one which would help its standing with the Palestinian people in Gaza is some kind of easing of the economic restrictions which are jointly imposed on the enclave by Israel and by Egypt. The new Egyptian government in particular has been very tough with Hamas – which it sees as an offshoot of the Muslim brotherhood – so it’s closed the smuggling tunnels which were a kind of economic lifeline both for Hamas and for the people of Gaza. That is one area where there’s a bit of scope for Egypt to offer Hamas something in return at least for coming to the table. I think what the Egyptians tried to do is sequence all of this so that you begin with a cessation of hostilities then you start to talk about things like prisoner releases or an easing of economic conditions. So, talking is going on we think between Egypt and Hamas. The Egyptians do have cards to play there, so the situation as it stands where Israel has accepted and Hamas has rejected – that could change. There has been a bit of rocket fire today from Hamas – or from the Gaza militants anyway – towards Israel at a relatively low level of intensity and no response yet from Israel so, it feels as though a diplomatic game is underway and success is not guaranteed.”

Let’s look at that last part first. After having spent the entire item telling listeners about “half a ceasefire” but failing to clarify what that really means in practical terms, Connolly in his last sentence finally informs them of “a bit of rocket fire …towards Israel” (not at it) at a “relatively low intensity”.

In fact, between 09:00 and 12:30 local time (when this programme was broadcast) over 22 missiles had already been fired at the Eshkol region, Ashkelon, Sderot, Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi, Be’er Tuvia, Netivot, Rehovot and Nes Ziona. One of those missiles landed in the yard of a house in Ashdod and one person was injured in Sderot. Three minutes after this programme went on air, missiles were also fired at Haifa, Daliyat al Carmel and the Carmel and Zichron Ya’akov areas. All in all, between 09:00 and 15:00 local time, fifty missiles were fired at civilian targets in Israel by terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip. By no possible interpretation of the word is that a “bit” of rocket fire.

Notable too is of course Knell’s description of convicted terrorists – including those freed in prisoner release deals – as “Hamas activists”, the fact that at no point in this broadcast are listeners reminded that Hamas is an internationally designated terrorist organization, Connolly’s bizarre reference to Hamas being “seen” as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and Damon’s description of Kevin Connolly’s location as “the Palestinian territories” even though he was in Jerusalem.

Likewise, it is remarkable that both Knell and Connolly chose to highlight the same two issues from Hamas’ pre-existing list of demands – ignoring no less significant other ones such as the demand for the Palestinian Authority to transfer money to pay Hamas employees and the demand that parties unnamed “stop interfering in the new unity government”. Whilst Knell and Connolly focus on what he terms “economic restrictions”, neither of them bother to clarify to listeners that Egypt’s actions against the smuggling tunnels came as part of its crackdown on Jihadist terror in northern Sinai and that Israel’s measures are aimed at preventing the entry of weapons into the Gaza Strip will obviously be just as relevant in the future as this round of conflict has proved they were in the past.

Most significant, however, is the fact that by the time this programme began at 12:30 local time, the ceasefire had been rejected by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad  and Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade took responsibility for some of the missile fire during the supposed ceasefire.  Most importantly, Hamas – not just its “military wing” as claimed several times in this programme – had already rejected the ceasefire via its spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

“In an early-morning meeting, Israel’s security cabinet approved the cease-fire, which calls for a de-escalation of fighting by both sides starting at 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday, with hostilities ending within 12 hours.

At a news conference at a hospital in Gaza City, a Hamas official said his group wouldn’t observe the cease-fire terms proposed by the Egyptian government because no one had conferred with them.

“We don’t like the policy pushing us into a corner,” said spokesman Samy Abu Zohry. Hamas was fighting for Palestinians, not a cease-fire, he said.”

It will be worth keeping an eye on additional BBC reporting on the topic of the ceasefire-that-wasn’t in order to note if it is reported in a similarly inaccurate and misleading fashion, downplaying both Hamas rejection of the opportunity for a halt to hostilities and missile attacks on Israeli civilians. 

BBC continues to promote theme of “homemade” rockets

One of the themes we have seen being recycled in BBC reporting of Operation Protective Edge is that of the description of the missile arsenals of Gaza Strip-based terrorist organisations as “homemade rockets”.Knell 14 7 homemade rockets

Just a few examples of that practice can be seen in the following reports.

In an article titled “Gaza-Israel conflict: What can Israel and Hamas gain?” which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 11th, Kevin Connolly stated:

“To the outside world the Gaza rockets may seem ineffective – partly because many are homemade and partly because they’re hopelessly overmatched by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.”

And

“Lots of the rockets in Gaza are workshop weapons. What if Israel staged a huge operation, left declaring it a success and then found home-made rockets raining down a week or a month later?”

An article titled “Israel and militants trade fire as Gaza toll rises” which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 12th included ‘analysis’ from Connolly in which he again stated:

“To the outside world the Gaza rockets may seem ineffective – partly because many are homemade and partly because they’re hopelessly overmatched by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.”

Another article appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 12th under the title “Israel to ‘resist international pressure’ over Gaza” includes that very same ‘analysis’ by Connolly.

In a filmed report produced by Yolande Knell on July 14th which appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Middle East conflict: Palestinians flee Israeli air strikes” as well as having been broadcast on BBC television news’ GMT programme, Knell states:

“These pictures from Hamas militants are said to show homemade Palestinian rockets being fired at Tel Aviv.”

The remarkably uniform description of missiles with warheads of up to 60 kg as “homemade” is clearly not a matter of chance. The obvious intention is to steer audiences towards a view of these weapons as being crudely and simply made, with the implication that they are ineffective and do not present such a dangerous threat to Israeli civilians. Notably too, whilst BBC reporters take pains to promote the “homemade” theme, they have little if anything to say about the weaponry of Hamas and other terrorist organisations which is not locally produced and the fact that several terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip are supplied, funded and supported by Iran.

So what are the facts with regard to the missile stocks of terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip?

According to Israeli military intelligence, of some 10,000 missiles located in the Gaza Strip, approximately 6,000 are in Hamas’ possession. The important fact that other armed terrorist groups are also in possession of military-grade weaponry is rarely adequately reported by the BBC.

Hamas arsenal

As we see, the amount of smuggled standard missiles outnumbers the locally produced ones, meaning that the BBC’s across-the-board description of Hamas missiles as “homemade” is both inaccurate and misleading. The same is the case with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s missile arsenal.

PIJ arsenal

It is also inaccurate and misleading to audiences when the BBC describes as “homemade” the products of what is in reality an organised industry which has already manufactured thousands of missiles and is funded by terrorist organisations – one of which is now party to the Palestinian unity government.

The deliberate use of the term “homemade” in relation to weapons which currently threaten the majority of Israel’s civilian population is not only inaccurate though: it also shows a clear breach of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality because its intention is to distort audiences’ views of the severity of the threat to that civilian population and thereby influence their overall view of the conflict. 

What are the dominant themes appearing in BBC filmed reports from the Gaza Strip?

As Operation Protective Edge progresses, the BBC is increasingly putting the focus of its reporting on the subject of casualties in the Gaza Strip. Notably – although the figures quoted by the BBC come exclusively from Palestinian sources and primarily from the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health – reports have not taken the trouble to clarify to BBC audiences that neither the figures themselves nor the ratio of civilians to combatants has been independently verified by the BBC.Op PE Bowen 2 11 7

Since the entry of the first BBC foreign correspondent into the Gaza Strip on July 8th, viewers of BBC television news and visitors to the BBC News website have seen the following filmed reports among others.

July 8th:  

  • Promotion of the inaccurate claim that the shortage of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip is the result of Israeli policy from Yolande Knell.

July 9th:

July 10th:

  • A report by Yolande Knell in which she amplifies claims made on Hamas-run local TV stations without informing audiences that they have not been independently verified by the BBC.

“…People really are extremely afraid. They’re just watching the local television news which is telling about the number of people killed here in Gaza since Tuesday morning mounting up, saying that most of those are civilians.” [emphasis added]

In the same report, Knell also amplifies an inaccurate claim of ‘collective punishment’ from what she describes as “human rights groups”, but fails to provide audiences with the names of those organisations so that they can verify the relevance and accuracy of such claims for themselves. In addition, she once more fails to inform audiences that the “homes” targeted also served as centres for terrorist activity.

“Israel has been following a policy of targeting the homes it says belong to militants here in Gaza. Because this is a very densely crowded place that often means that because residential areas are targeted, whole families are targeted and you have what’s been described by some human rights groups as collective punishment, but also just other civilians not involved in militant activity getting caught up in this.”

  • A filmed report by Kevin Connolly, the synopsis of which also quotes Hamas officials without informing readers that the information has not been independently verified by the BBC and does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

“Palestinian officials in the Gaza Strip say 78 people have been killed in Israeli attacks from the air and the sea this week.”

To his credit, Connolly mentions in that report some of the methods used by Israel to avoid civilian casualties (others include aborting missions and leafleting operational areas).

“Israel says its air-force tries hard to avoid civilian casualties. Before houses are bombed, warnings are telephoned to people inside and a dummy missile is fired before the real one: a so-called ‘knock on the roof’.”

He goes on:

“It doesn’t always work. Israel today called the death of eight civilians in a house in Khan Younis on Tuesday a tragedy, saying the victims had gone back inside too soon after the warning.”

Disappointingly, Connolly fails to inform viewers that Hamas has instructed the local population to ignore warnings from the IDF, encouraging them to act as human shields.

“They didn’t warn us. […] It was the first time they hit a house without any warning.”

Sommerville adds:

“The Israeli military usually gives advance notice of an attack. If they did here, the Haj family didn’t receive it.”

Again, no effort is made to inform BBC audiences of Hamas’ calls to civilians not to heed Israeli warnings or of the significant fact that in this particular case, that instruction was issued using the Palestinian National Authority logo due to the establishment of the PUG at the beginning of June.

GAZA MOI

July 11th:

“The deaths of two Palestinians in an Israeli air-raid on a camp in central Gaza has brought the total number of people killed in the conflict to 100 in just four days. Overnight another five people were killed when a three-storey house in the southern town of Rafah was flattened. Militants have fired more rockets at Tel Aviv in the last few hours. No Israelis have so far been killed since the conflict began.”

  • A filmed report using amateur footage, the synopsis to which as it appears on the BBC News website does not clarify that the source of the information given is Hamas or that the BBC has not independently verified it and does not make any distinction between civilian and combatant casualties.

“More than 100 people have died in the Israeli air strikes on Gaza, Palestinian sources say.”

  • A filmed report by Jeremy Bowen, who arrived in the Gaza Strip on the morning of the same day. The synopsis to the version of that report appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page once again fails to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties and neglects to inform audiences that the figures have not been independently verified by the BBC.

“More than 100 people have died in the Israeli air strikes in the territory, Palestinian sources say.”

Failing to point out that the Gaza Health Ministry is run by Hamas and that the BBC has not verified its claims independently, Bowen informs viewers:

“More than half of over 100 people killed in Gaza by Israeli raids were women and children according to the Health Ministry.”

  • In a separate but similar report from the same date titled “Gaza crisis: Death toll from Israeli strikes ‘hits 100′”, Bowen repeats the above claim, once again failing to inform viewers that the figures come from Hamas and have not been independently verified by the BBC.

“More than half of over 100 people killed in Gaza by Israeli raids so far this week were women and children, according to the Health Ministry.”

He adds:

“The UN Human Rights Commissioner says there’s serious doubt Israel is complying with the laws of war that protect civilians.”

Notably, Bowen’s paraphrasing of Navi Pillay’s statement does not include the part of it which conflicts with Bowen’s claim that more than half the casualties in the Gaza Strip are women and children. Bowen also fails to inform viewers that the UN Commissioner also noted Hamas’ failure to comply with the laws of war that protect civilians, both by its indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians in missile attacks and its storage of weapons and firing of missiles from residential areas in the Gaza Strip.

“Ms. Pillay warned in particular that attacks must not be directed against civilians or civilian objects, nor should military assets be located in densely populated areas or attacks be launched from such areas.”

As we see from the examples of reports above, the BBC’s main themes in its reporting from the Gaza Strip so far have been as follows:

Promotion and amplification of false claims of targeting civilians and collective punishment made by politically motivated interested parties.

Promotion of unverified casualty figures from Hamas sources with a failure to distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Portrayal of Israeli strikes on houses without adequate clarification of the practice of use of residential buildings as command centres and weapons storage facilities by terrorist organisations.

Failure to adequately inform BBC audiences concerning the use of civilians as human shields by Hamas and other terrorist organisations, including both the failure to report Hamas calls to the public to ignore Israeli warnings intended to reduce the risk of civilian casualties and the failure to report on the storage and firing of missiles from residential areas.

Failure to inform BBC audiences of factors contributing to the number of casualties such as secondary explosions due to the storage of explosives in houses or public buildings located in residential neighbourhoods and short-falling missiles.

Inference of failure on Israel’s part to conform to laws of war protecting civilians without adequate information on the topic of those laws being provided and with no clarification to audiences concerning obvious breaches of the same laws by terrorist organisations based in the Gaza Strip, including the one which is party to the PA unity government. 

 

 

 

 

BBC News describing Hamas command & control centres as ‘houses’

As readers are no doubt aware, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in the early hours of July 8th in an attempt to bring to a halt the barrages of missile fire against Israeli civilians by terrorists in the Gaza Strip which have been ongoing for almost a month and has severely intensified and widened over the last few days.

The BBC News website’s main and Middle East pages announced in their lead headlines on the morning of July 8th “Israel launches new strikes on Gaza” with mention of missile attacks on Israeli citizens relegated to the sub-header.

jul 8 hp am

A similar title was given to the main article on the topic – “Israel launches new air strikes on Gaza Strip“. The article (changes to which can be seen here) opens:

“Israel has carried out more air strikes on the Gaza Strip, following dozens of rockets fired by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.”

No time scale is given in that introduction and so BBC audiences have no idea over what period those “dozens of rockets” were fired. In fact, on the day before the operation commenced – July 7th –more than eighty-five missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip at civilian targets in Israel but the BBC’s tepid description of course gives readers no real appreciation of the intensity of the attacks or their range. In addition, the article neglects to mention that in addition to Hamas, other terrorist organisations have also taken responsibility for missile fire, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and a Fatah-linked group. The report goes on:Gaza art 8 7 opPE

“At least 15 Palestinians, including two women and a child, were reportedly hurt in the strikes.

Hamas said it fired rockets to respond to “Zionist aggression”, after accusing Israel of killing five of its fighters.

Israel denied the claim. It says it has now begun an open-ended aerial operation to end rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel says the operation will be expanded in the coming days and that 1,500 reservists have been called up.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has told the BBC that Israel had the capacity to take its operation “up a notch” and warned that a ground incursion was “not off the table”. “

The five “fighters” to which the BBC refers in its amplification of Hamas propaganda were in fact among those killed whilst handling explosives in a cross-border tunnel in preparation for a terror attack. Oddly, that fact is noted later on in the article and so it is difficult to understand the editorial considerations behind the amplification of a Hamas statement the BBC obviously knows not to be accurate.

The article goes on to repeat a misleading theme which has been promoted in other BBC coverage too.

“Tension has spiked in recent days over the murders of three young Israelis and a Palestinian teenager.”

In fact, augmented missile attacks commenced some two and a half weeks before it was known that three Israeli teenagers and one Palestinian youth had been murdered and they are related to a series of factors unconnected to those murders; not least the balance of power between Hamas and Fatah.

Later versions of the article include the following statement from the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly:

“The sudden escalation has come just days after there was talk of a possible truce between Israel and Gaza with each side suggesting that calm would be answered with calm, our correspondent adds.”

Whilst Israel did indeed state that calm would be met with calm, Connolly’s representation of the Hamas reaction is inaccurate and misleading.

“Head of Hamas’s foreign relations Osama Hamdan said that his movement will not accept any ceasefire in light of the continued siege on Gaza.

He told al-Resalah Net in an interview published on Saturday that the Israeli siege on Gaza is an ongoing aggression that must be stopped.

Hamdan said that there were no regional attempts to reach a ceasefire between Palestinian resistance and Israeli occupation, saying that Egypt did not intervene so far to broker a new calm or to stabilize the old one.

He said that the ceaseless Israeli aggression on the occupied Palestinian land revealed hypocrisy of many parties that only viewed resistance as “terrorism”.

Hamdan described the continued security coordination between the PA and the occupation as a flagrant betrayal of national constants.

He pointed out that certain elements within the PA had supported the Israeli story about the recent events by holding the Palestinian resistance fully responsible for the escalation.”

Later on in this somewhat confused and repetitive article it is stated:

“Hamas said Israel targeted two houses and four training facilities used by the militants across Gaza.

Palestinian medics said 15 people were injured, including two women and a child, in the southern town of Khan Younis.

Hamas militants reportedly warned they would enlarge the radius of their targets if Israel continued with the air strikes.”

The theme of “houses” – or “homes” – was also amplified (albeit citing different numbers) in a BBC World Service tweet and in a filmed report from July 8th by the BBC’s Gaza correspondent Rushdi Abualouf which was aired on BBC television news as well as appearing on the BBC News website.

Tweet WS homes

Abualouf report 8 7

In his report Abualouf says:

“The spokesman of the Hamas-run interior ministry has said the number of airstrikes has risen into thirty targets. The airstrikes targeted, like, eh…military compound for Hamas and also they have hit five houses as the Hamas spokesman said.”

Reasonable viewers or readers would of course interpret those references to “houses” or “homes” as meaning just random civilian dwellings occupied by residents of the Gaza Strip. That, however, is not the case.

All those “houses” are in fact terror command and control centres used by the following known terrorists:

“Ei’ad Sakik, a Hamas terrorists in Gaza, involved in rocket terrorism against the State of Israel.

Abdullah Hshash, a Hamas terrorist in Rafah, involved in rocket terrorism against the State of Israel during the past few weeks and in the past as well.

Samer Abu Daka, a Hamas terrorist in Khan Yunis, involved in terrorist activity against the State of Israel.

Hassan Abdullah, a Hamas terrorist in Khan Yunis, involved in rocket terrorism against the State of Israel during the past few weeks.”

Despite that information being available in the public domain, the BBC elects to amplify misleading and inaccurate Hamas propaganda in its written and filmed reports and on social media.

One other remarkable fact about this article is its complete failure to inform readers of the highly significant fact that, as of June 2nd 2014, the Palestinian unity government is in charge in the Gaza Strip and of course that government is committed to all previous agreements signed with Israel – which include the disarming of terrorist organisations. 

BBC’s Gaza correspondent tells WS listeners civilian kibbutz is ‘military outpost’

Listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Outside Source’ on July 2nd heard presenter Ros Atkins speaking to the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly and the BBC Gaza office’s Rushdi Abualouf about the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir from Shuafat. That segment of the programme is available here.OS logo

Connolly begins by continuing the BBC’s across the board promotion of the incident to audiences as having been perpetrated by Israeli Jews, even though no proof of that speculation has so far come to light, oddly defining it as “sectarian”. Listeners will also gain some insight into the interesting way in which Connolly – and presumably his colleagues – have interpreted the Israeli prime minister’s condemnation of the murder.

Connolly: “We know very little [unintelligible] person about Muhammed Abu Khdeir yet and that’s one of the tragedies of this kind of sectarian murder of course – if that’s what it turns out to be – that he wasn’t killed because of who he was; merely as a matter of his ethnic identity. As I say, the real fear here is that this is a sectarian tit-for-tat killing. This is all still evolving – the Israeli police aren’t saying that clearly yet – but when you look at the statement from Benjamin Netanyahu, which I would think we would translate that as being a despicable murder, it’s very, very strong language from Benjamin Netanyahu. He was challenged by the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to come out and condemn it and has done so in the strongest possible terms, so I think the fact that Netanyahu was talking in those terms shows you that Israelis as well as Palestinians assume this to be a sectarian killing and Benjamin Netanyahu, who has already made it known that he’s calling on the country’s security minister Yitzhak Aharonovich to catch the killers of this Palestinian teenager, that is all to do with what you quoted Netanyahu saying there; that the view of the Israeli government of course is that this is a law-based state and that means everybody has to observe the law. So Muhammed Abu Khdeir; as I say we will know about the young man – his personality, his life – perhaps after his funeral. But for the moment the tragedy – his death – is surrounded in this kind of fog of sectarian hatred.”

Connolly then goes on to provide listeners with an interesting view of his understanding of why the residents of a neighbourhood of Jerusalem are rioting against the very security forces investigating the youth’s murder and trying to uncover the facts about the case.

“Well it’s inevitable when you have a large-scale police operation like this – as you’re going to have after an abduction or a murder; a big police inquiry – that is going to raise tensions in an Arab area of East Jerusalem like Shuafat or Beit Hanina. They’re right beside each other, I should say. So, the police operations will be resented by the Palestinians because of course in East Jerusalem – an Arab area annexed by Israel as Yolande said after it was captured in the war of 1967 – Israeli operations there will always be resented by Palestinians. The potential is always there for those kind of clashes between the Israeli police on the other as the investigation gets underway. But behind those  public order disturbances, which naturally attract our attention, a murder inquiry is underway and I would say there’ll be huge political pressure on the Israeli police to catch quickly the killers of Muhammed Abu Khdeir to demonstrate to the Palestinian people, to demonstrate to the wider world, that Israel takes his killing as seriously as it took the killing of those three teenagers whose abduction dominated the headlines here for three weeks.”

Atkins then moves on to speak with Rushdi Abualouf, who promotes a number of inaccurate points to listeners.

“Let’s bring in the BBC’s Rushdi Abualouf live with us from Gaza City. Well Rushdi, we spoke yesterday on ‘Outside Source’. You described air strikes. What’s happened in the 24 jours since?

Abualouf: “There was only one more airstrike on Gaza, targeting a place where militants did launch…eh…three more rockets toward the south of Israel. It’s been more, like, relatively quiet since the big…eh…wave of airstrikes – like 34 airstrikes is been targeting Hamas institutions in the Gaza Strip got hit shortly after the discovering of the three bodies – the three Israeli teenager bodies in the West Bank.”

Abualouf is clearly trying to promote the notion of linkage between the discovery of the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Sha’ar on June 30th and the airstrikes carried out in the early hours of July 1st. However, that is not the case: those airstrikes came in response to the firing of over eighteen missiles at Israeli civilian communities in southern Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Abualouf then goes on to promote another falsehood.

“This morning the militants fired a couple of mortars towards one of the Israeli military outpost close to the border between Gaza and Israel and people are expecting Israel might, like, do more strikes tonight if the rockets from Gaza continue to fall in the south of Israel.”

In the incident Abualouf describes, nine mortars – not “a couple” – were fired at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom – a civilian agricultural community in the Eshkol region: not a “military outpost” as Abualouf inaccurately informs BBC audiences.

Atkins then asks Abualouf about the reaction to the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir in the Gaza Strip.

Abualouf: “”There was some sense of anger. We have talked to the people in Gaza about the incident. Some of them calling for revenge. Some of the militant group issued a statement, like, condemning and calling for revenge and they…in the past we have seen, like, militants from Gaza responding and firing rockets when something like this happening even in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem because they believe that they should fight to get the whole..the historical Palestine – which now called Israel – in their hands. The people do not believe in the peace process or the ’67 border. They normally insist to fire rockets when there is something happening any part in the Palestinian territory or East Jerusalem.”

There is of course no such thing as a “’67 border” – only Armistice lines from 1949 which, as we have clarified here on numerous occasions, are specifically stated not to be borders.

No effort was made by Atkins to correct that inaccurate statement by Rushdi Abualouf or any of the other misleading and inaccurate information he provided to BBC audiences. 

 

 

BBC News promotes unverified speculation on motive for killing of Palestinian teen

At around 04:00 local time on the morning of July 2nd a teenager from the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat was reported missing. At 05:45 the Israeli police announced the discovery of a body in the Jerusalem forest but at that stage, no connection had been established between the two events.

Just over four hours later, and hours before the body had been officially identified, the BBC News website published the first version of an article which now appears under the title “Palestinian teenager’s body found in Jerusalem“. That initial version read as follows:Shuafat first art

“Israeli police have found a body they believe may be that of a Palestinian teenager kidnapped in East Jerusalem.

A boy was seen being forced into a car in Beit Hanina early on Wednesday. Within hours, a body was discovered in a wood in Givat Shaul, to the west [sic].

Israeli police were unable to confirm the motive, but Palestinian sources said it appeared to be a revenge attack for the murder of three Israeli teens.

Later, Palestinians clashed with Israeli police outside the boy’s home.

The protesters threw stones at the officers, who reportedly responded by firing sound bombs and rubber bullets.”

Around an hour later, that article was amended and expanded (all changes to it can be viewed here). Despite the fact that at that stage the circumstances had still not been established and the body was still in the process of DNA identification, the second version of the article opened thus:

“Israeli police have found the body of a Palestinian teenager who was kidnapped overnight in East Jerusalem.

A boy was seen being forced into a car in Shufat [sic] early on Wednesday. Within hours, a partly-burned corpse was discovered in a forest in Givat Shaul.

Israeli police were unable to confirm the motive, but Palestinian sources said it appeared to be a revenge attack for the murder of three Israeli teens.”

In other words, despite the fact that the police and forensic investigations were still in their initial stages, (and in sharp contrast to its two-day wait in reporting the kidnapping of three Israeli teens on June 12th) the BBC was already telling its audiences that the teenager, Muhammed Abu Khdeir, had been kidnapped, that the body found in the forest was his and that the motive “appeared to be” a “revenge attack” by Israeli Jews.

Although the language used later on in that article is a little more guarded, nevertheless the BBC elected to promote and amplify a version of events which, even over 24 hours later, has still not been established as fact.

Yolande Knell was quoted in that article as saying:

“While there has been no confirmation that this was a revenge attack for the three murdered Israelis whose bodies were found in the West Bank earlier this week, there is no doubt among Palestinians here about what has happened.”

A quote from Kevin Connolly also advanced the same theory.

“The BBC’s Kevin Connolly says it is too early to say for sure, but there is a real possibility that the killing is a tit-for-tat reprisal, with all the dangers that would pose for the broader relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Knell’s quote appeared in all five subsequent versions of the report and Connolly’s quote in all but the most recent version, which was published just before 3 p.m. local time.

Just before 7 p.m. local time the police spokesman made the following announcement:

“Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says police are investigating the possibility that the motive behind the abduction and killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir was criminal or an honor killing, as well as the option that it was nationalistically motivated.

“There are no clear-cut conclusions at the moment,” he says. “We will have to see how things develop.” “

On the same evening the Minster for Public Security also made a statement.

“Minister Aharonovitch emphasized that at this stage all avenues of investigation are being checked and added that the motive for the murder cannot be determined at present. The Minister noted that units in Jerusalem and around the country are being reinforced and asked the public to show restraint and patience at this time in order to allow the investigators to carry out their work.” [emphasis added]

The BBC News website, along with other BBC platforms, continues however to promote and amplify an unproven, highly inflammatory and – as past experience shows – potentially very dangerous version of events which at this stage is based entirely upon supposition and speculation.

Is this really the standard of reporting expected from an organisation which informs its funding public that “BBC News aspires to remain the standard-setter for international journalism”?   

 

 

Kevin Connolly promotes a stereotype on BBC TV news

In a filmed report which appeared on BBC television news programmes on June 30th and which was also posted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Teens found dead near Hebron: Israel ‘united in grief’“, the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly told viewers:Connolly filmed 1

“It’s a pretty tense scene here, you know. Around –across – Israel people will be united in grief at this news as they’ve been united in hope for the two-and-a-half weeks that the three teenagers have been missing. And in fact, just ahead of me on the road in the darkness, just a little way up the road out of sight of the camera, there’s a small protest by Right-wing Israelis beginning to gather, because there will be huge anger as well as huge grief in Israeli society at this outcome.” [emphasis added]

Connolly does not reveal to viewers what evidence he has to support his description of that group of people as “Right-wing Israelis”. Has Connolly asked all the members of that group to categorise their individual political opinions? Are they carrying any signs or banners which would provide some sort of clue as to how they tend to vote in elections or what their stances are on topics such as the welfare state or economics?

Well, we can get a clue to the answers to those questions from another filmed report by Connolly which, as well as being aired on BBC news programmes, also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East and ‘Live‘ pages under the title “Missing Israeli teens found dead near Halhul“.

In the footage included in that report, viewers saw the frames below, with the people filmed heard singing and Connolly telling viewers in the voice-over:

“As the news spread a small group of settlers and their supporters began to gather at the scene. There will be a demand in Israel not just for the kidnappers to be caught, but for some kind of security response.”

Connolly filmed 2 pic a

Connolly filmed 2 pic b

Connolly filmed 2 pic c

So – no recorded political questionnaire was carried out by the BBC film crew and no political signs or banners were carried by the assembled people: just Israeli flags. And yet, based entirely and exclusively upon their appearance, their dress and his assumption of their postcodes, Kevin Connolly presumed that he could inform BBC audiences (within BBC guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, of course) that this group of people uniformly holds specific political opinions.

Stereotype: A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.”

Background to the BBC’s inaccurate framing of the end of Middle East talks

Back on April 1st the BBC published an article on its website’s Middle East page titled “Premature to write off Middle East peace talks – Kerry” which we previously discussed here.

That article related to the PA president’s move of the same day in which he signed applications to join assorted UN agencies and conventions and it included a side-box of analysis from the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly which opened thus:Sidebox Connolly

“The Palestinians have begun applying for accession to a wide variety of international treaties and conventions to signify their frustration at Israel’s failure – so far – to release a final batch of prisoners whose freedom the Palestinians believe was guaranteed under the US deal that got talks started last year.”

In the body of the article readers were told that:

“Hours earlier, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would seek further UN recognition unless a prisoner release by Israel went ahead.”

In other words, BBC audiences were encouraged to believe that Mahmoud Abbas’ signing of those applications was a reaction to the delay in the release of the fourth tranche of prisoners on March 29th.

However, on March 9th 2014 – almost a month earlier and a week prior to Abbas’ meeting with the US president at the White House – the PLO’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat presented a 65-page document to Abbas outlining his proposals for the PA’s strategy for handling the final two months of the duration of the talks, which were set to conclude on April 29th.

In that document, Erekat wrote that “it is incumbent upon us” (the PA):

“To put forward immediately the request to accede to the Geneva Conventions (1,2,3,4) of 1949, and to the additional protocols of 1977. Once he receives the request for accession, the President of Switzerland will announce that the State of Palestine has been accepted as a High Contracting Party to these conventions.”

In other words, the recommendation to apply to join international conventions had been made long before the delay in the fourth tranche of prisoner releases.

Additionally, Erekat proposed in that document:

“To inform the American Administration, the EU, Russia and the UN that it is impossible to extend the negotiations beyond the end of the nine month period, on April 29, 2014.”

Thus we see that despite the prisoner releases having been conditional upon progress in the talks, the intention was to secure the fourth tranche of releases but to refuse to extend the negotiations’ deadline. Erekat even outlined his PR strategy for that move:

“To affirm that the release of prisoners – 104 – is not connected to the negotiations or the settlements but with the avoidance by the Palestinian side of efforts to accede international institutions during the nine month period.”

And that despite the fact that earlier in the document, in the section in which Erekat outlined the agreements secured with Kerry before the talks commenced, he defined the PA’s undertakings thus: [emphasis added]

“We undertook as the Palestinian side:

To persist in the negotiations without a break;

To avoid acts of accession to international institutions during the period of negotiations (nine months).

To respect our obligations under existing agreements, including our security obligations.”

Notably too, the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal (which was presented to audiences by the BBC’s Middle East editor as being the fruit of frustration with the talks) is also set out in Erekat’s document as preconceived strategy.

“The cornerstone of Palestinian strategy now must rely upon the realization of reconciliation and the strengthening of Palestinian national unity, particularly since the exclusion of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian space has become an important cornerstone of Israeli strategy.”

In light of the fact that the BBC has framed the issue of the end of this latest round of negotiations as attributable to the Israeli prime minister alone, it would of course be appropriate for the corporation to inform its audiences of what in fact was going on behind the Palestinian scenes during those last two months of those talks. Should it fail to do so, the BBC would clearly be in breach of its public purpose remit to “build a global understanding of international issues”. 

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive: how a complainant convinced the BBC Trust’s ESC to uphold his appeal

As we have previously noted, the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee recently upheld an appeal regarding a complaint about a report by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly which was broadcast on Radio 4′s ‘Today’ programme in June 2011. 

As reported by The Times in mid-March:

“The BBC Trust has upheld a complaint which alleged that a five-minute report on Radio 4’s Today programme about the Six-Day War was misleading and biased, The Times has learnt. […]

The latest complaint relates to an item which aired on the Today programme in June 2011. The report, by Kevin Connolly, one of the BBC’s Middle East correspondents, examined the legacy of the 1967 conflict between Israel and several neighbouring states.

According to the trust’s findings, which were obtained by The Times, a listener alleged that the Today report wrongly gave the impression that Israel occupied land three times its original size as a result of the war, when it had given 90 per cent of the land captured in 1967 back to Egypt. The programme also, the complainant alleged, gave a misleading impression that Israel was not willing to trade land for peace, when it had reached peace deals with Jordan and Egypt that included transfers of conquered territory.

The trust found that the Today report had been inaccurate on both points and that the complaints should be upheld.”

As previously noted here, this complaint took a shocking two and a half years to make its way through the BBC’s complaints procedure and one of the interesting features of the ESC’s report on the topic (pages 9 -23 here) is the documentation of the sudden about-turn in the BBC’s stance regarding the complaint after input from “the News Division and from the BBC correspondent [Kevin Connolly]“.

“On 3 December 2012 the complainant received an undated letter from the Head of the ECU [Editorial Complaints Unit], advising him of the Unit’s provisional finding. The ECU said that by drawing attention to the original extent of the territory occupied by Israel in 1967 without referring to the return of Sinai, the item may have created the impression that Israel remained vastly larger as a result of the war and that land for peace remained an untested option. It had therefore provisionally decided to uphold a breach of accuracy in this respect. [emphasis added]

Following an inquiry by the complainant in March 2013 about whether the decision had been finalised, the complainant was advised that the last letter he had received telling him of the provisional finding, had been sent to him in error; it had been intended as a draft for internal consultation.

As a result of representations from the News Division and from the BBC correspondent in response to the internal circulation of the provisional finding, the Head of the ECU had now altered his view and had decided not to uphold any aspect of the complaint. He said the point had been made to him that the return of Sinai to Egypt following the Camp David Accords was not an instance of “land for peace” as envisaged in those Accords. An integral part of the Accords had been a commitment to “negotiations on the resolution of the Palestinian problem in all its aspects” and a staged progression towards full autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza and a final status agreement. Because the ECU was now satisfied that the return of the Sinai did not constitute “land for peace” the significance of any incorrect impression as to the extent of territory Israel had withdrawn from was much reduced and the ECU decided it would not therefore have affected listeners’ understanding of the question under consideration in the report.” [emphasis added]

In other words, the Head of the ECU – who had previously been inclined to uphold the complaint – was persuaded to completely reverse his position by the specious claim of Kevin Connolly et al that Israel’s return of the Sinai peninsula to Egypt within the framework of the peace treaty between the two countries did not constitute ‘land for peace’.  Many of us might simply have given up in the face of such contorted logic, but the complainant did not. Instead, he persevered with a reply to Connolly’s claims.

“The complainant responded to the revised provisional finding on 13 April 2013 with a detailed rebuttal of the ECU’s conclusions, challenging the ECU’s interpretation of the contents of the Camp David Accords.”

Whilst that detailed rebuttal did not prompt the Head of the ECU to change his mind about rejecting the complaint, it was taken into consideration by the Editorial Standards Committee which eventually did uphold the complaint.

BBC Watch contacted the complainant, Sam Green, who kindly agreed to share with us details of his rebuttal of the claims produced by Connolly. Sam’s account below makes fascinating reading for anyone who has ever waded into the BBC complaints procedure and raises serious questions about the workings of that procedure as a whole.

“The lowest point in the grinding slog of my BBC complaint was probably receiving the Editorial Complaints Unit proposed final ruling. This was the final stage within the Corporation before I appealed to the BBC Trust, the semi-detached oversight body.

It was so demoralising because, on top of the delay (I was strongly suspicious they were trying to use delay as a tactic to bury the complaint), the logic in this finding was so flawed, so tortuous, so surreal that this letter made me doubt the bona fides of the organisation. The important thing was not the journalism; it was preventing a complaint succeeding.

The second response came after they had previously said they were planning to partly uphold the complaint, and then said I’d been told that by mistake.

Here is their reasoning on why my complaint didn’t hold water:

“…the return of Sinai to Egypt following the Camp David Accords was not an instance of “land for peace” envisaged in those Accords, an integral part of which was a commitment to “negotiations on the resolution of the Palestinian problem in all its aspects” and a staged progression towards full autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza and a final status agreement. Put simply, the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai could be regarded as an instance of “land for peace” if that outcome had been achieved, but it has not been.

…Kevin Connolly’s report was concerned with “land for peace” in the same sense – a peace settlement among all parties on the basis of agreed borders…”

I had a problem in how I was going to respond to this; one of the tactics the BBC used was to layer on complication; the more complication they layered on the easier it was for them to say how complicated it all was and they couldn’t possibly hope to deal with all of that. I needed to focus on the internal logic of the report rather than a history of the Middle East. However I did need to engage with their argument, so I dealt with both. It was a long letter.

I started by signposting the attempt to overcomplicate in their response:

I will not be drawn into a line-by-line dissection of the Camp David Accords; it is a diversion from the question of whether your listeners heard an inaccurate and misleading report. They are for the most part not expert in the history and politics of the Middle East, and nor am I. Nor should there be any expectation that we have such specialist knowledge.

If the BBC starts from the expectation that its listeners ought to have postgraduate level knowledge of all the topics it covers it would not benefit your listernership.

I went on to differentiate between the two treaties that made up Camp David, to outline elements of the Egypt Israel Peace Treaty, summarising;

It is called a Peace Treaty. It establishes a state of peace between Egypt and Israel. It links the establishment of that peace with the exchange of territory.

I engaged with the term “land for peace” (their inverted commas) and my efforts to find out where their singular usage they claimed for the phrase had come from. It was not in the other Camp David accord; the Framework for Peace, it was not in the Egypt Israel Peace Treaty. A Google search took me to Security Council Resolution 242 which itself did not contain the phrase, was not raised in the report or previously in the complaint and did not contain a meaning claimed in the ECU provisional ruling.

I moved on to the contradictory and ever fluid meaning of ‘peace’. In the statement from the ECU there was no peace for which land had been traded because the “staged progression  to full autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza and a final status agreement” did not come to pass, and, at the same time it meant “…a peace settlement among all parties on the basis of agreed borders…”. That’s quite an unexplained stretch for a concept. It shows just how desperate the BBC was to retrofit plausible meaning on their report.

I spent quite some words addressing this; if it was about peace with the Palestinians why talk about Syria so much?

The Camp David Accords were between Israel and Egypt. There were no other regional parties who were signatories to those accords or, as far as I understand, who accepted it.

And which parties do you mean? The states involved in the 1967 Six Day War? Syria was excluded from the Camp David accords, Jordan was not a party. And what about Iraq and the Arab League? The PLO, or Fatah, and what about Hamas? Other Arab states? Who are “all parties”? Why is there an assumption that Egypt spoke for and signed on their behalf when they explicitly rejected it?

It was at this point I mentioned the Jordan Peace Treaty of 1994 which also included territorial concessions. Land as part of a peace deal.

And the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005; more complex but still relevant in terms of willingness to withdraw from conquered territory.

In terms of the extent of territory under Israeli control, the ECU had this to say;

“…the significance of such an incorrect impression is much reduced if the resulting inference that ‘land for peace remained an untested option’ is not viewed as misleading; and, on balance, I don’t think it would have affected listeners’ understanding of the question under consideration in the report to the extent that I would regard it as a breach of editorial standards.”

To me it seemed blindingly obvious:

a listener without specialist knowledge would naturally infer that in the absence of any statement to the contrary Israel remains triple the size (or controls territory triple its original size).

After travelling much further into the complex history of the region than I wanted to, I had moved to my real point; the importance in not losing sight of what the listener heard and the natural meaning they would associate with that.

Turning to the question of land for peace. I again suggest it is appropriate for you to rely on natural meaning… the impression your listener would have been left with by the report that went out was one of intransigence and unwillingness to trade territory for peace. An impression that required context.

…on any natural meaning, as understood by a reasonable listener, trading more than 90% of the territory captured in the context of peace treaties, for peace, constitutes land for peace; land pursuant to peace. Trying to use semantics to argue otherwise smacks of casuistry.

This made no impact on the ECU which rejected the complaint. It is only because the complaint managed to reach the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee that these points (along with later submissions) were properly considered, and the Trust ruled that the report was inaccurate and misleading; that it was bad journalism.

The question now is; why didn’t Kevin Connolly understand that? Does he get it now? Does he accept it? Why didn’t the Today programme producers and Editor understand that? Why didn’t the people dealing with the initial complaint understand that and why, for all their lengthy and reflective deliberations didn’t the ECU understand that?

And what are they all going to do about it?

They haven’t said – and I think we can all have a pretty good guess at the answers to all of those questions.”