Some of the earlier articles on the topic of the new PA unity government (PUG) appearing recently on the BBC News website showed an improvement in the accuracy of their descriptions of Hamas’ designation as a terrorist organisation.
The May 29th report titled “Abbas asks PM Rami Hamdallah to head Fatah-Hamas unity cabinet” stated:
“Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US, the EU, Canada and Japan and its deal with Fatah has angered Israelis.”
The June 1st article which ran under the heading “Israel PM warns against Hamas-Fatah ‘terror’ cabinet” informed readers that:
“The Islamist movement is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US, the EU, Canada and Japan.”
By June 2nd, however, the wording had changed and the report titled “Palestinian unity government sworn in by Mahmoud Abbas” made do with the following description:
“Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organisation by Israel and other countries, opposes the peace talks, though President Abbas has said the new government will abide by previous agreements.”
In the June 4th article headed “Kerry defends US recognition of new Palestinian cabinet” Hamas’ terror designation was further downgraded by the BBC to include only two countries.
“The Islamist movement is considered a terrorist group by Israel and the US.”
Hamas is of course defined as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan – as the BBC’s own profile of Hamas clearly states. In addition, Jordan and Egypt have banned Hamas and Australia designates Hamas’ Izz al Din Al Qassam Brigades as a terrorist organization, as do New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
As can be seen in the examples in the ‘related articles’ below, the downplaying of Hamas’ terror designation is not a new phenomenon on the BBC News website.
“Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said his cabinet was committed to all previous agreements with Israel and would continue “programmes of peace” aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state.”
“Both the UN and EU have welcomed the new government, on the basis of the assurances that it will abide by its commitments of recognition of Israel, non-violence and adherence to previous agreements.”
However, the report later goes on to state:
“Mr Hamdallah has said the cabinet is focusing on “how to reunite the institutions in the West Bank and Gaza”.
It is not clear how the dual civil services will be merged and whether Hamas will cede any control of security in Gaza, where in addition to its 25,000-strong military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the group controls 20,000 other armed personnel.”
Those “previous agreements”, by which the BBC reassures its audiences the new PA unity government will abide, include the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. That treaty states, inter alia, in Article XIV:
“Except for the Palestinian Police and the Israeli military forces, no other armed forces shall be established or operate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
“Except for the arms, ammunition and equipment of the Palestinian Police described in Annex I , and those of the Israeli military forces, no organization, group or individual in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall manufacture, sell, acquire, possess, import or otherwise introduce into the West Bank or the Gaza Strip any firearms, ammunition, weapons, explosives, gunpowder or any related equipment, unless otherwise provided for in Annex I.”
Annex I states:
“In the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Police will possess the following arms and equipment:
(1) 7,000 light personal weapons;
2) up to 120 machine guns of 0.3″ or 0.5″ caliber; and
(3) up to 45 wheeled armored vehicles of a type to be agreed on between the two sides, and of which 22 will be deployed in protecting Council installations. The use of wheeled armored vehicles in the Security Perimeter, on the Lateral Roads and on their adjacent sides, or in the vicinity of the Settlements shall be approved through the relevant DCO. Movement of such vehicles along the central North-South road (Road No. 4) in the Gaza Strip may take place only after providing notification to the relevant DCO.”
Article XV of the same treaty states:
“Both sides shall take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against each other, against individuals falling under the other’s authority and against their property and shall take legal measures against offenders.”
In other words, the failure by the PA unity government to disarm all Hamas-controlled armed personnel (including its terrorist militia), to seize any weaponry (such as military grade missiles) which does not fall under the clear stipulations of Annex I – along with the resulting failure to take “all measures necessary” to prevent acts of terrorism by Hamas or any other party in the Gaza Strip – already constitutes a breach of those “previous agreements”.
An organization truly committed to helping its audiences build “a global understanding of international issues” would of course ensure that it made the above very relevant points clear and would provide them with an accurate description of Hamas’ international terrorist designations.