The BBC News website’s coverage of the June 8th visit by Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican for a joint prayer meeting with the Pope included a written report titled “Pope Francis peace plea at Israel-Palestinian prayer meeting” (changes to which can be seen here) and a filmed report by Alan Johnston titled “Pope hosts Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas at Vatican“.
Both those vapid reports focus primarily on the ceremony of the emblematic event but do little to clarify its lack of consequence to readers and viewers beyond the following inscrutable one-liner appearing in Alan Johnston’s insert of analysis in the written report and in the filmed version.
“But those most familiar with the harsh realities of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute are likely to look on with some considerable scepticism.”
Parts of speeches made by the Pope and his guests are quoted in both reports and readers are informed that the guests “were driven together to the Vatican gardens”, that “[t]he Pope then sat between the two presidents as a chamber orchestra played” and that “[t]he three men then shook hands and planted an olive tree”. They are also told, correctly, that:
“The Israeli president occupies a largely ceremonial position and has no formal role in peace talks. He is due to leave office at the end of this month.”
However, in line with the BBC’s usual practice, audiences are not informed that the Palestinian president’s term of office ended well over five years ago and that he has since held onto power despite holding no elected mandate.
Notably, the BBC’s written report was not updated to include the related news that, on the same evening as the Vatican event took place, Israelis living in towns and villages in the Western Negev once again found themselves running for shelter when terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a missile at civilians in the Ashkelon area.
There is, of course, nothing novel about the BBC ignoring missile attacks on Israeli civilians by Gaza Strip-based terrorist organisations, but the fact that as of the swearing-in of the new PA unity government at the beginning of June, Mahmoud Abbas and the PUG are now officially responsible for the prevention of such terror attacks is relevant and essential information with which BBC audiences have not yet been provided.