Standard BBC ‘international law’ insert breaches editorial guidelines

Regular BBC readers, viewers and listeners do not need to be reminded of the standard BBC mantra according to which:

“The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

Though that mantra has been repeated countless times over the years, it is not accompanied by a definitive cited source (because of course there isn’t one) and its claim is erroneously presented as being contested only by the government of Israel. In other words, the BBC’s standard formulation egregiously ignores the existence of legal opinions which contradict its own adopted narrative.

Those legal opinions include that of Professor Julius Stone as laid out in his book “Israel and Palestine: Assault on the Law of Nations“, extracts from which can be read here. On the subject of the Fourth Geneva Convention – which is usually the basis for claims that Israeli communities in areas formerly occupied by Jordan are “illegal” – Professor Stone wrote the following.

“Perhaps the central current criticism against the government of Israel in relation to its administration of the territories occupied after the 1967 War concerns its alleged infractions of the final paragraph (6) of Article 49, of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of August 12, 1949. The preceding paragraphs deal with deportation or transfer of a population out of the occupied territory. The final paragraph (6) reads as follows. “The occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territory it occupies.” […]

It is clear that in the drafting history, Article 49 as a whole was directed against the heinous practice of the Nazi regime during the Nazi occupation of Europe in World War II, of forcibly transporting populations of which it wished to rid itself, into or out of occupied territories for the purpose of liquidating them with minimum disturbance of its metropolitan territory, or to provide slave labour or for other inhumane purposes. The genocidal objectives, of which Article 49 was concerned to prevent future repetitions against other peoples, were in part conceived by the Nazi authorities as a means of ridding their Nazi occupant’s metropolitan territory of Jews – of making it, in Nazi terms, judenrein. Such practices were, of course, prominent among the offences tried by war crimes tribunals after World War II.

If and insofar, therefore, as Israel’s position in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is merely that of an occupying power, Article 49 would forbid deportation or transfer of its own population onto the West Bank whenever this action has consequence of serving as a means of either

(1) impairment of the economic situation or racial integrity of the native population of the occupied territory; or

(2) inhuman treatment of its own population.

Impairment of Racial Integrity of the Native Population of the Occupied Territory

The prominence of the question of legality of Jewish settlements on the West Bank reflects the tension of the peace process, rather than the magnitude of any demographic movement. Despite vociferous political warfare pronouncements on both sides, it seems clear, therefore, that no serious dilution (much less extinction) of the separate racial existence of the native population has either taken place or is in prospect. Nor do well-known facts of dramatic improvement in the economic situation of the inhabitants since 1967 permit any suggestion that the situation has been worsened or impaired…

Inhuman treatment of its own population

On that issue, the terms of Article 49(6) however they are interpreted, are submitted to be totally irrelevant. To render them relevant, we would have to say that the effect of Article 49(6) is to impose an obligation on the state of Israel to ensure (by force if necessary) that these areas, despite their millennial association with Jewish life, shall be forever judenrein. Irony would thus be pushed to the absurdity of claiming that Article 49(6) designed to prevent repetition of Nazi-type genocidal policies of rendering Nazi metropolitan territories judenrein, has now come to mean that Judea and Samaria the West Bank must be made judenrein and must be so maintained, if necessary by the use of force by the government of Israel against its own inhabitants.”

Additional legal opinions disappeared from audience view by the BBC include that of former Chief Justice of the International Court of Justice Professor Stephen Schwebel, former  Harvard Law School visiting scholar Jeffrey Helmreich, former US Under-Secretary of State Euguene W. Rostow and numerous others.

Whilst the BBC clearly does not have to agree with – or like – any of the above opinions or the many similar others, it does have the obligation under its editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality to inform its audiences of their existence. Currently, it fails to meet that obligation. 

55 comments on “Standard BBC ‘international law’ insert breaches editorial guidelines

  1. We all know full well that this is not true.

    Legal opinion recognises, as do the majority of UN states (including the USA) that Israel ‘assists’ these settlements, and the transfer of its population to these areas by providing :

    1) Material support by financing house building
    2) Logistics, private ‘Israeli’ only roads
    3) Security, IDF armed guards and Walls
    4) Water & electricity connections to settlements

    all on illegally occupied land in the West Bank. It is therefore is acting illegally under international law.

    If Israel removed the IDF security from these settlements, the inhabitants would soon move back ‘home’ to inside Israel’s pre-67 borders.

    We all know this, so the BBC is correct in what it says.

    • @Illegal Assistance Under International Law: We all know? The construction of roads and the zoning and service-provisioning of housing is a legal obligation of any occupation regime. Jews who move to the Judea and Samaria are not transferred by the government. They “transfer” themselves. Whether or not they facilitate it is irrelevant. They don’t organize it, so it isn’t transfer (which actually means forcible transfer anyway).

      • Firstly, it’s good that you recognised it as an occupying regime. Occupying what? Palestine. Legally? No.

        Secondly, the roads provided are for ‘Jews only’. Hardly fair when it’s not benefiting the residents of the land you’re occupying.

        And finally, you are incorrect – legal, logistical, construction, financial, security and health assistance all count as ‘state sponsored activity’ and come under the terms of the convention – this is a state encouraged activity, pure and simple.

        Otherwise states could disavow knowledge of what their armies did and pretend that those evicting natives through force, or moving civilians onto occupied land, were acting alone. Exactly the same reason that territorial acquisition by war is not allowed. It is to prevent this type of ‘nothing to do with me Guv’ excuse, and hence illegal.

        • They do not fall under the terms of the convention. You are thinking of the Rome statute, which Israel is not a signatory to. It adds the key terms “directly or indirectly”.

          Moreover, I don’t recognize that Israel is occupying anything. I am speaking in the case that it were.

          • Mistake 1: Israel did initially sign the statute, but later declared its intention not to ratify it.

            Mistake 2: David Kretzmer, Professor of International Law at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has argued that it is “quite clear that by actively organizing or encouraging transfer of its own population into the occupied territory, an occupying power does indeed violate Article 49(6)”


            A further June 2004 Israeli Supreme Court ruling concerning the West Bank stated that “the point of departure of all parties – which is also our point of departure – is that Israel holds the Area in belligerent occupation (occupatio bellica)” and that the military commander’s authority is “anchored in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949”.

            so, now what?

            Feel a bit silly now?

          • I have plenty of sources. Nicholas Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Eugene Kontorovich, Alan Baker, and tons of other scholars of international law have written about this. I can link you the articles if you want.

  2. I entirely agree. Dr Stone’s arguments are plainly intended to obscure the plain illegality of Israel’s occupation of much of the West Bank. How else can it be seen… errand of mercy providing 26 foot walls for the saviours? Israel’s obvious territorial ambitions cannot be obscured by absurd rhetoric about refusing assent to Jew-free zones! The races involved are irrelevant: the shameless expansionism is not whether it was conducted by Israeli Jews, Christians or atheists. And Dr Stone surely knows it.

    • How is the occupation illegal, other than by noting that it is not an occupation, since the Palestinians are not a high contracting party to the Geneva conventions.

      • A people’s right to self-determination is inalienable – you can’t pretend it isn’t because they weren’t once a state. Does that mean, by the same logic, that those in Israel only started to matter once they ‘became a State’? That before 1948, that very date they declared Independence , that none of those people mattered? that they had no rights? Of course not.

        The whole UN Charter, which all states have agreed to, even Israel, is that the right to self determination is fundamental. And so it is also for the Palestinian people too.

        • That does not mean anything. Self determination does not mean they get to have all the territory they want. They already have self determination under the PA. They just want more territory than Israel is prepared to give them, and Israel has a right to territorial integrity under the UN charter… 101

          • They have the right to form a state, is what it means. Pure and simple.

            and they have. opps!

          • That is certainly not true. Self determination does not mean a right to secede. It means limited autonomy. Do people living under dictatorships have self determination? It is a very slippery term. States have a right to territorial integrity.

  3. I found this site 3 days ago, and I’m curious: this site has an agenda, but to what end?

    That ‘troll’ (fwiw I think there are at least 4 of them, as they’re writing style differs somewhat: I’m a teacher so I should know as students regularly try their best to ‘help’ classmates!) made an interesting point in another post, and I quote:

    “Ehud Barak said: either it’s a Jewish state that practises Apartheid, or a democracy that is no longer a Jewish state. Which one do you want? Be BRAVE and say!”

    ….and I second that thought; What is the desired end game to all those bashing the BBC?

    It’s clearly not about journalistic accuracy, as this site is guilty of some egregious fact manipulation of its own (as the ‘trolls’ regularly point out, and I’ve followed ALL links from both sides), so what really is the point of it all?

    What is it that, in an ideal world, the BBC would report daily about the MiddleEast, and to what end? How would it be beneficial to those who created this site (ardent pro-Zionists, it appears from comments and posts) and what is the message they want to see communicated?

    I’d like to know more about this, as its important to always ask ‘what next?’ For example, in 20 years time, demographically speaking alone, there will be many more Arabs in the area – arguably more than Israelis. Then what?

    They say tomorrow never comes, but it does for others, so what will it look like for them, in say 2034?

    Serious questions from a curious observer. And no, I’m not resolution242 or Dr Higgins or whatever they’re called. My name is Phil, and that’s all you need to know for now! 🙂

    • My desired endgame is the mass expulsion (voluntary or forcible) of all of the Palestinian Arabs because they are psychotic, bloodthirsty, and because they live on a strategically vital area of land for Israel’s defense. They gave up their rights to a state in the West Bank when theg rejected the Camp David accord and started a 5 year terror war.

      • Nice. I think you need to be sectioned under the mental health act. And let nowhere near a keyboard again.

        Bigot much?

        • How am I a bigot? Look at the polls. Like half of all Palestinian Arabs support suicide bombing. Moreover, how can you seriously deny that they are similar to the Sudeten germans? Hitler encouraged a Sudeten separatist movement in order to secure Czechoslovakia’s natural defenses, after which he quickly invaded the rest of the country. If you look at the topography, the West bank overlooks all of Israel. The Palestinians are totally irredentist, and Israel giving up the territory would invite another war. Israel should expel the Arabs in the West Bank instead of committing national suicide.

          Your ad hominem attack on me is in lieu of actual analysis.

          • What? I am 24 years old, and I said nothing racist. I just see population transfer as the only possible solution where neither side gets genocided. Ethnic cleansing is clearly superior to genocide, no?

    • That ‘troll’ (fwiw I think there are at least 4 of them, as they’re writing style differs somewhat: I’m a teacher so I should know…

      You are just anther one of resolution242’s sockpuppets.

      If you are a teacher I’m an astronaut and if your name is Phil mine is Algernon.

      Hadar should be able to see in her server logs that all these sockpuppets have the same IP address…

  4. I’ll try to answer your questions Phil.
    The purpose of the site, as it states at the top of the page, is to monitor the BBC in its reporting about Israel for accuracy and impartiality, and for the most part, recording a consistent failure to achieve, or even attempt that.

    I will answer another of your questions with a question.
    At the present rate of demographic growth here in the West, sometime in the future there will be a majority of Muslims, the majority of whom will want Sharia Law. So if the West remains democratic, it will ensure the end of democracy. So what do you think has to happen to preserve the whole point of democracy?

    The point of Israel is to be a Jewish state – a safe land (relatively) where Jews can live without the fear of what happened in countries like Germany, Russia, etc.

    If the national broadcaster of a supposed free and democratic nation is purposefully twisting and concealing the truth to advance a particular insidious agenda, what do you imagine the ‘end game’ is? Do you really need somebody to explain it to you, or perhaps you need to ask yourself, if you’re from this society, what do you think YOU should be doing about it?

    The BBC has a charter, which it’s supposed to adhere to, and the public are forced to pay for it. As it is, it’s twisted presentation on a whole range of issues, not just to do with Israel, are screwing up this country, and our society.

    Let’s hear your views on this Phil.

  5. I think you read the Daily (hate)Mail too much.

    Apart from not EXPLICITLY answering the question about GAZA and the WEST BANK (not Birmingham, or Brixton) you’ve basically said the following:

    Muslims have more kids, they’ll be more of #them# than #us# and #they# all want Sharia Law. Therefore……

    and that’s where you stop. Is it because what you ‘wanted’ to say involves the killing of individuals who you think are ‘different’ because of their colour? Or religion?

    Go ahead and say it, we know you want to. Just say it. But remember, you’ll get locked up for it – and rightly so!

    so, please, say it…….

    • We don’t need a final solution. We need to pay them to leave and expel the remainder. You forget the fact that Israel is surrounded by hostile barbaric Arabs who send their own children on suicide missions and then celebrate. Israel will do what it must to survive.

        • No, the Irgun only engaged in reprisal to prevent the use of terrorism on Jewish civilians. So I guess you could argue that they were terrorists but only to maintain deterrence. The Arabs tried to use terrorism as a strategy.

          • … bombing hotels with international citizens…

            Exactly how many hotels?

            Other than The King David which others did the Irgun bomb?

            You constantly ask others for facts, how about some from you?

          • Do you really believe Israel is still holding large parts of the West Bank as a defensive “Buffer”? Against what attacks from who? How many fatal ones in, say, the last ten years? Or don’t the actual facts matter when Israel’s transparent territorial ambition (often more candidly “justified” as Eretz Israel) is what is really at issue? Who do you think would believe you? Not……
            Ronald Higgins

          • I believe that the poster’s original point was that the attack on the Kind David hotel was a terrorist act.

            Is that not the case?

  6. Oh, and by the way Mr/Mrs/Ms Sockpuppet:

    Begin argued that terrorists and freedom fighters are differentiated in that terrorists deliberately try to target civilians, and that the Irgun was not guilty of terrorism since it supposedly tried to avoid civilian casualties. At the events to mark the 60th anniversary of the attack, Benjamin Netanyahu, then chairman of Likud and Leader of the Opposition in the Knesset, opined that the bombing was a legitimate act with a military target, distinguishing it from an act of terror intended to harm civilians. He said, “Imagine that Hamas or Hizbullah would call the military headquarters in Tel Aviv and say, ‘We have placed a bomb and we are asking you to evacuate the area.’ They don’t do that. That is the difference.”

    • Good on you, Bio, for extracting an admission (though twisted) from the troll that he was lying about the Irgun bombing more than one hotel.

    • “I spoke to Adolf Hitler…”

      Why am I not surprised?

      (still waiting for you to tell us exactly how many hotels the Irgun bombed and sources for that accusation)

    • I suppose that when Arabs target Israeli buses, pizzerias and the like IN ISRAEL, deliberately targeting civilians, or slitting the throats of Jewish toddlers while they sleep in their cots, or attacking an elderly Holocaust survivor while he’s reading a book on a park bench FROM BEHIND, I suppose you consider all of those kinds of actions to be legitimate “resistance”, not terrorism?

  7. “The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

    The BBC continually comes up with that mantra, whether or not it’s relevant to the issue under discussion. It’s as if it feels compelled to proudly pin its anti-Israel badge to its collective lapel. “Look at us,” the BBC insists on saying between the lines of its putrid journalism, “we support the Palestinians and we hold all the politically-correct opinions about the Israeli-Arab conflict, i.e. that the Israelis can do no right and the Arabs no wrong.”

    Thus the BBC joins the pack baying for the weakening and ultimate destruction of Israel, disguised as a genuine concern for peace and stability in the region. When you look at that alleged concern, here’s what you find: In 2005, Israel withdrew from every last square inch of Gaza, forcibly evicting those settlers who would not leave voluntarily. After a day or two of crazed celebrations, the Palestinians continued their interrupted rocket fire from Gaza on nearby Israeli communities. The BBC and like-minded media failed utterly to report accurately on those events. Had they done so, they would have been forced to acknowledge that the desired Land for Peace was not the outcome of Israel’s disengagement from Gaza.

    Now the baying pack, having disdainfully ignored the lesson of Gaza, insists that Israel withdrew from all territory held beyond the Green Line. In other words, the pack looks forward to a repeat in the so-called West Bank of attacks on Israel from Gaza.

    UNSC Resolution 242 of 1967 reaffirmed the position that acquisition of territory through war is inadmissible. But Israel did not set out to acquire territory in June ’67 but to defend itself against the stated aim of the Arabs to annihilate the Jewish state, which was made clear by decades of terrorist attacks on Israel, Nasser’s closure of the Straits of Tiran, eviction of UN peacekeepers from the Sinai and Syria’s attacks on Israeli villages from the Golan Heights.

    After that lightning war, Israel held territory as a buffer against future attacks. To claim, as the bloodthirsty pack does, that Israel has no right to hold these territories is to acquiesce in the weakening and eventual destruction of the Jewish state.

    Sites like this one exist to present the Israeli side of the wildly-distorted picture and to hold the BBC to account for its implacably false and biased reporting on the Israeli-Arab conflict. And these sites do a fine job.

  8. Hadar,

    That last post was not made by me.

    The pest has now taken to impersonate others.

    Please block him.

  9. “Sourced material”?!

    Surely you’re having a laugh?

    I’m still waiting for you to give sources for your accusation that the Irgun bombed more than one hotel.

    See here:

    also here:

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