Here’s a tweet sent by Rushdi Abualouf of the BBC’s Gaza office on February 12th:
Abualouf’s tweet relates to a story put out the same morning by the AFP news-agency – apparently via its team in the Gaza Strip. The backbone of the story (which can be seen here) relies on statements made by anonymous Palestinian Authority officials.
” “The Israelis have prevented 70 sick people who need to go to Israeli hospitals from crossing Erez because it said ‘State of Palestine’ on their transfer request,” said a senior Palestinian official at the Gaza district coordination office.
“It was only this week that they informed me personally that Israel refuses to deal with this document,” he told AFP.
“This is a political decision from the Israelis to exert pressure in the negotiations,” he charged, referring to US-led peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. [….]
A senior official from the Ramallah-based health ministry, who is in charge of external treatment requests, confirmed it was the first time since mid-December that patients had been refused a permit on the basis of the logo on the medical transfer request.
“The Israeli side informed us that following a decision from COGAT, they won’t give any permits to any patients with that logo,” he said.”
The AFP article did not include an Israeli response to the claims.
So what is the real background to the story? Blogger Elder of Ziyon contacted COGAT to find out.
“For several months, the Palestinian Authority has been sending requests on the new letterhead. Every single time, COGAT rejected it, and each time they were resubmitted with the Palestinian Authority letterhead – and approved. This was not new, and the PA knows very well that this was the case.
As recently as Sunday, several patients whose requests were on the new stationery were rejected, and then the PA re-faxed the request the old way and they were approved.
Today’s story is a propaganda ambush. Some 50-70 patients (apparently non-life threatening) were submitted on the new stationery at once, an unusually high number. As has been the case for months, they were rejected. But this time the story was leaked to the media. (There was a Haaretz story about this in January with only one patient, but it didn’t get much coverage. Much better to use 50 or 70 if you want Reuters and AFP to take notice.)
Existing agreements are between Israel and the PA, not the fictitious “State of Palestine.” It is obvious that the PA is trying to embarrass Israel and will happily use Gaza patients as a means to do so. It is equally obvious that the “State of Palestine” is a final status issue, and that Israel cannot act otherwise without jeopardizing its negotiating position.
As usual, instead of dealing with Israel directly, the PLO is passive aggressively using the media to demonize (and weaken) Israel on its behalf. And, as usual, the media is happy to play its part in this charade.”
And that seems to include a certain BBC journalist in Gaza.
The BBC’s guidelines on the use of social media (which includes Twitter) state:
“However, when someone clearly identifies their association with the BBC and/or discusses their work, they are expected to behave appropriately when on the Internet, and in ways that are consistent with the BBC’s editorial values and policies.” [emphasis added]
“The BBC’s reputation for impartiality and objectivity is crucial. The public must be able to trust the integrity of BBC programmes and services. Our audiences need to be confident that the outside activities of our presenters, programme makers and other staff do not undermine the BBC’s impartiality or reputation and that editorial decisions are not perceived to be influenced by any commercial or personal interests.”
“Even if they are not identified as a BBC staff member, editorial staff and staff in politically sensitive areas should not be seen to support any political party or cause.”
“Impartiality is a particular concern for those working in News and Current Affairs. Nothing should appear on their personal blogs or microblogs which undermines the integrity or impartiality of the BBC. “
The promotion of a half-story clearly intended solely to advance PA propaganda is obviously not in line with the criteria laid down in those guidelines.
By the way, the photographs on the right appear – with public viewing settings – on Rushdi Abualouf’s Google+ account. Those are of course Fatah flags and the pictures were taken on January 1st which – coincidentally or not – is ‘Fatah Day': the anniversary of its first terror attack on Israel.
That renowned BBC accuracy and impartiality…