BBC’s ‘Israeli building threatens peace talks’ meme in numbers

How many times over the last week have readers of the BBC News website been told that Israeli building tenders in Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria threaten to “sabotage” peace talks?  

On Sunday, August 11th they were told so in no fewer than three separate reports: “Israel backs new Jewish settlement homes, “New West Bank settlement homes anger Palestinians and the filmed report by Kevin Connolly which also appeared on BBC television news “New Israeli settlement homes anger Palestinians– which stayed up on the website for an additional four days. 

August 12th saw the appearance of an article titled “Israel names 26 Palestinian prisoners for release in which the same meme was also promoted, as well as an item by Jonathan Marcus entitled “Does Middle-East peace process matter? in which he misleadingly suggests that a construction freeze was part of the “understanding” reached in order to resume the latest round of talks. That article has been featured on the website for eight days – and counting.

On August 13th the BBC published an article called “Kerry: Israeli settlements move was expected which also promoted the notion that Israeli building would “sabotage” the talks. The same day also saw the appearance of a report by Kevin Connolly titled “Little hope for talks among Israelis and Palestinians in which the same meme was advanced. That report stayed on the website for three days in all. Another article titled “Palestinian prisoners ‘moved’ before Israel release devoted over half its word count to the subject of Israeli building. 

August 14th saw the appearance of three reports – one written (“Israel releases 26 Palestinian prisoners ahead of talks) and two filmed – both titled “Israel frees Palestinian prisoners“, both by Yolande Knell (see here and here) and both of which also appeared on BBC television news as well as on the website again the following day.  All of those reports purported to report on the release of Palestinian prisoners, but all of them also promoted the ‘building sabotages peace talks’ meme. Also on the same day an article by BBC Monitoring entitled Q&A: Israeli-Palestinian talks in Jerusalem was published in which the subject of building tenders was reported to have caused “dismay” to Palestinians. 

On August 15th (and for three additional days afterwards) the BBC News website carried a report titled Israel-Palestinian peace talks resume in Jerusalem  which promotes the claim that: 

“Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have continued to overshadow the resumption.

The issue halted the last direct talks in September 2010 and Palestinian representatives have accused Israel of trying to sabotage the latest negotiations.

In recent days Israel has announced plans for more than 2,000 new settlement homes.

Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official Yasser Abed Rabbo said the settlement expansion was “unprecedented”.

“The talks might collapse any time because of the Israeli practices,” he told Voice of Palestine radio.”

As we see, a regular reader of the BBC News website would have been exposed to the meme that Israel announced the issuing of building tenders on August 11th as a means of “sabotaging” the renewed talks – and hence a threat to peace in general – in no fewer than thirteen reports published on the website in the period August 11th to August 15th inclusive. Naturally, the promotion of that meme was often accompanied by now standard misleading BBC slogans such as:

“Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.”


“The issue of settlement-building halted the last direct talks.

These collapsed in September 2010.”

During the same week, Israel released twenty-six convicted terrorists and murderers as a ‘goodwill gesture’ aimed at encouraging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. As was widely documented by the BBC itself, those prisoners were received at official Palestinian Authority organized celebrations in which the man holding the highest office in the PA – Mahmoud Abbas – literally and figuratively embraced the men as heroes, glamourising and glorifying their acts of terrorism.

The BBC, however, does not appear to consider the Palestinian Authority’s public glorification of terror just hours before renewed talks were set to commence as an attempt to “sabotage” those talks or a threat to ‘Middle East peace’ and so the number of articles exploring that angle which visitors to the BBC News website would have read in the same period of August 11th to 15th is zero.

Were the BBC’s coverage of these renewed talks truly accurate and impartial it would not refrain from informing its audiences of the fact that, even whilst sitting at the negotiating table, the Palestinian Authority continues to incite its people against Israel, to glorify terror and to spend 6% of its budget on salaries for convicted terrorists. As it is, BBC audiences have so far read no analysis on the subject of how those factors might influence the talks, but they have been spoon-fed a meme on Israeli building which bears uncanny resemblance to the campaign currently being run by the PLO.  


14 comments on “BBC’s ‘Israeli building threatens peace talks’ meme in numbers

  1. You need to also specify that the BBC always omits to mention that the building relates to areas which will remain part of Israel and so do not affect the talks in any detrimental manner

  2. I thought this was quite an insightful way of pointing out how marginal the “settlements” issue is. The Palestinian kids at jihadi summer camps are being taught to want Tel Aviv, not Ariel or Maale Adumim.

    “Children in refugee camps and their jihadist camp counselors demonstrate no interest in settlements. Concern over Ariel and Beit El is an internal Israeli discussion. Rather, they are interested in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the central objects of their longing.”

  3. is this article really attempting to claim that abbas hugging freed prisoners is an act of sabotage towards the peace process equal to the building of new ‘settlements’? large scale illegal building projects taking months to plan and build resulting in permanent symbols of israeli occupation in palestinian territory is somehow comparable to a momentary embrace and photo op? this article is horribly myopic and the comparison it attempts to draw is tenuous to say the least. the writer insults the intelligence of those who read the article.

    • I agree amos, the settlements and the release of mass murderers are in no way a ethically relevant comparison. I further agree that large scale terrorist plots taking months to plan and resulting in the death of Israelis are nowhere near the moral bankruptcy of letting Jews live in their ancestral homeland on acreage that it is not illegal for them to build on. I also find it horrible that there are Jews living in Hebron now, whereas they were not after 1948 because the Jordanians ethnically cleansed the west bank of Jews. It’s just a horrific situation.

      • conjectureandconsequence you’re brimming with sarcasm but seem confused. the article does not draw a comparison between the building of illegal settlements and the release of prisoners; it makes a comparison between the building of illegal settlements and the public embracing of the former prisoners by abbas. secondly the building of settlements and the release of prisoners are both israeli actions, whereas the point of the article is to compare the actions of the two different sides. you seem to be comparing the actions of israel with other actions of israel which makes little sense.

        • Oh, I am sorry Amos, I didn’t realize you were that pedantic. Let me fill in the blanks for you. Let’s try again: ” I agree Amos, the building of legal settlements on land that had nothing to do with former agreements and the Palestinian Authority demanding the release of mass murderers as preconditions to even sitting at the same table with Israelis and then publicly embracing mass murderers and celebrating their accomplishments is not an ethically relevant comparison.”

          Further, Amos, besides my omission of a well established causal fact that you seem to think means I am confused, I am, in fact, confused about the suggestion that I am comparing solely Israeli actions. If I am, and the Israelis released mass murderers of their own accord and without considerable urging from the United States and the PA, then they are certainly beneficent and merciful in their attitude towards the Palestinains and their public Jew killing heroes. If this is so, your concern about settlements is eclipsed by the simple fact that the Israelis are willing to release people that have killed their family members in order to get an organization to stop inciting people to kill their family members. If all the particulars are true, that is the height of merciful action that would never be reciprocated by the other-side, period. If they are not true, then I am not comparing solely Israeli acts. This is simple stuff, Amos.

          Now, you can hear your deluded sentiments about settlements and all the mechanical appurtenances of your theory about occupations and Jews living in apartments somewhere across the green line being the root cause of this conflict begin to spurt and sputter a great deal of smoke, while my suggestion that the Palestinians have not only demanded an ethnically pure Palestine since 1948, but continue to demand it —- one of the reasons the settlements are even an issue is because, just like Gaza, no Jews will live in Palestine —- is nicely tuned and purring. What is it that you said about Shortsightedness?

  4. BBC shouts ‘Israeli building threatens peace talks’ But BBC says not a word about the massive arabs lands grab & illegal construction over Area C under Israeli Jurisdiction & control.

    The BBC portray as goodwill gesture the release of Jew hating murderer Jihadists PLO-PA prisoners,
    But the BBC says not a word about the insane phemonenon of Jihadists Abbas & Gangs & arabs celebrations of the release & glorification of those murderer terrorists

  5. What Obstacle?
    Somehow the murder of Jews travelling on roads, posters of Hitler on the Temple Mount, the complete map of Israel on the Pal (Fatah) flag, the thousands of rockets from Gaza, the Pal naming of public sites after terrorists, the teaching of Pal children to that Jews are Pigs and Apes that must be destroyed Jews and Israel are NOT obstacles for peace?

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