The second of the BBC News website’s reports on last weekend’s donor conference in Cairo was a report currently headlined “Donors pledge $5.4bn for Palestinians at Cairo summit” which underwent numerous changes after its initial appearance on October 12th.
The article’s most notable feature is its repeated promotion of a specific theme.
“Earlier the Palestinian and Egyptian presidents called on Israel to commit to a long-term peace initiative.
Mahmoud Abbas and Abdul Fattah al-Sisi urged Israel to give up land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and accept a fair solution for Palestinian refugees in exchange for full recognition.” […]
“He [John Kerrry] added that anything other than a long-term commitment to peace would be a “band-aid fix”.
At the opening of the conference, President Sisi urged “the Israelis, both the people and the government” to put an end to the conflict.
“We should turn this moment into a real starting point to achieve a peace that secures stability and flourishing and renders the dream of coexistence a reality,” he said.” […]
“Announcing the UK’s $32m donation in Cairo, International Development Minister Desmond Swayne said the international community could not continue to pick up the pieces of the conflict indefinitely.
“It is critical that reconstruction efforts now form part of a process of meaningful political change,” he said.”
However, despite the repeated amplification of that theme, at no point in the article does the BBC bother to inform readers that the terrorist organization which still controls the Gaza Strip, which is party to the current PA unity government and to which the incumbent President of the PA has already stated that he will cede control in the event of its victory in the supposedly upcoming elections, not only opposes holding negotiations in order to reach a peace agreement with Israel, but rejects the very existence of the Jewish state.
Likewise, the related and highly relevant topic of the failure of the Palestinian unity government to disarm Hamas in accordance with existing agreements with Israel – by which it declared it would stand (and yet failed to do so) when that government was inaugurated in June – is not introduced into this article.
Instead, BBC audiences are fed the following trite version of events:
“The Gaza Strip, sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, has been a recurring flashpoint in the Israel-Palestinian conflict for years.
Israel occupied Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war and pulled its troops and settlers out in 2005.
Israel considered this the end of the occupation, though the UN continues to regard Gaza as part of Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory.
Israel exercises control over most of Gaza’s borders, waters and airspace, while Egypt controls Gaza’s southern border.”
As we see, the elephant-in-the-room issue of Palestinian terrorism is completely ignored in this account, with the BBC clearly trying to promote the politically motivated myth of an ‘occupation’ of the Gaza Strip which has not existed for nine years. As has been the case on numerous previous occasions, the BBC misleadingly proposes that Israeli control over “Gaza’s borders, waters and airspace” is evidence of continuing ‘occupation’ but deliberately refrains from informing audiences that the representatives of the Palestinian people were party to the creation of that arrangement when they signed the Oslo Accords and further confirmed it when they signed the later Agreement on Movement and Access in November 2005 following Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
An additional notable factor in this report is its continued promotion of casualty figures which have still not been independently verified by the BBC and with no transparency regarding the partisan nature and political background of their sources.
“The seven-week Gaza conflict, which ended in a truce on 26 August, killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, the UN says, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel.”
As has been the case in all BBC reports to date, no effort is made to inform audiences of the existence of other estimates of the civilian/combatant casualty ratio in the Gaza Strip. The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, which has so far carried out detailed examination of 42% of the casualties named by Palestinian sources has so far identified 49.8% of those names as terrorists and 50.2% as civilians. Yet again, no attempt is made by the BBC to inform audiences of how the civilian/combatant casualty ratio in Gaza compares to that of other conflicts.
This report – ostensibly a news item – once again demonstrates that the BBC’s practical interpretation of its obligation to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues” is shaped by the political messaging it aspires to promote rather than by any genuine commitment to accurate and impartial reporting of events and the provision of all relevant information which would allow audiences to fully and comprehensively understand the issues at stake.