Not all ‘occupied territories’ are equal for the BBC

As readers are no doubt well aware the BBC rarely, if ever, passes up on an opportunity to remind its audiences that certain geographical areas appearing in its coverage are “occupied territories” or “occupied Palestinian land” and that “settlements are illegal under international law”. The BBC’s ‘style guide’ on “Israel and the Palestinians” has instructions for its journalists on the topic – including:Style Guide

“Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. A law in 1980 formalised an administrative measure tantamount to the annexation of land taken as a result of the 1967 War. The claim to East Jerusalem is not recognised internationally. Instead, under international law, East Jerusalem is considered to be occupied territory. […]

The BBC should say East Jerusalem is ‘occupied’ if it is relevant to the context of the story. For example: “Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since 1967. It annexed the area in 1980 and sees it as its exclusive domain. Under international law the area is considered to be occupied territory.”” 

And:

“The phrase ‘Occupied Territories’ refers to East Jerusalem, the West Bank and strictly speaking the Golan Heights. However, it is common usage for this phrase to refer to the West Bank as a whole and not the Golan Heights (unless it is in a story specifically on the 1967 War or Syrian/Israeli relations).    

This is our preferred description. It is advisable to avoid trying to find another formula, although the phrase ‘occupied West Bank’ can also be used. It is, however, also advisable not to overuse the phrase within a single report in case it is seen as expressing support for one side’s view.”  

Apparently though, no comparable instructions are available to BBC journalists writing about Cyprus – at least if an article which appeared on the BBC News website on April 26th under the title “Mustafa Akinci wins northern Cyprus presidential election” is anything to go by.

The word ‘occupied’ did not appear in that report at all: readers are merely told that Turkey ‘controls’ the northern part of Cyprus.

“Voters in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus have elected Mustafa Akinci as their new president.”

Audiences are also informed that:

“The island was divided in 1974 by a Turkish invasion staged in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup staged to secure a union with Greece. In 1983 the Turkish-held area declared itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.”

No mention is made of the fact (noted in the BBC’s Cyprus profile) that the only country to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is Turkey and of course there is no reference in the report(or the profile) to “illegal settlements” or “international law” despite the fact that it was Turkish state policy to facilitate and encourage the immigration of Turkish nationals to the island during the latter half of the 1970s.

Can it really be that the BBC has only issued specific guidelines on the ‘correct’ terminology to be used when reporting on one of the world’s many conflicts?  

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10 comments on “Not all ‘occupied territories’ are equal for the BBC

  1. Presumably East Jerusalem should more accurately described as “occupied territory of Jordan”. Strange that Jordan never seems to agitate for the return of its former territory.

    Answers as to why on a postcard please to the BBC.

  2. “Strange that Jordan never seems to agitate for the return of its former territory.”

    Because it never was “its territory”.

    Jordan’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria was only ever recognised by the UK (Yes, the UK) and Pakistan, and was condemned by the UN..

    That’s something the BBC makes a point of not telling its audience whenever it talks about Israel and the 1967 War.

    According to International Law, Jerusalem Belongs to Israel

  3. In 1948-9,when the TransJordanian army,trained, equipped and led by Britain’s Glubb., were the Old City and Judea and Samaria referred to as occupied?

  4. Jordan formally dropped all claims to the area of Judea and Samaria including Jerusalem in 1988. Arguably this came in response to the accumulated pressures and the months of intifada demonstrations by Palestinians in the West Bank, When the Palestine National Council recognized the PLO as the sole legal representative of the Palestinians, Hussein immediately gave them official recognition.

    Hussein dissolved the Jordanian parliament, half of whom were West Bank representatives, and stopped paying salaries to over 20,000 West Bank civil servants.

    In other words, not only was Jordan’s claim from 1948 bogus but after 1988 it stopped making it.

  5. My understanding is that Shurat HaDin is suing Turkey and others, for moving their populations into occupied territory. They do not expect to win and indeed hope not to because their goal is to create a legal precedent when and if the case goes to the ICC.

    The Israel High Court of Justice ruled in 2005 that “The Judea and Samaria areas are held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation. The long arm of the state in the area is the military commander. He is not the sovereign in the territory held in belligerent occupation (see The Beit Sourik Case, at p. 832). His power is granted him by public international law regarding belligerent occupation. The legal meaning of this view is twofold: first, Israeli law does not apply in these areas. They have not been “annexed” to Israel. Second, the legal regime which applies in these areas is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation (see HCJ 1661/05 The Gaza Coast Regional Council v. The Knesset et al. (yet unpublished, paragraph 3 of the opinion of the Court; hereinafter – The Gaza Coast Regional Council Case). In the center of this public international law stand the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907 (hereinafter – The Hague Regulations). These regulations are a reflection of customary international law. The law of belligerent occupation is also laid out in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 (hereinafter – the Fourth Geneva Convention)”

    In other words that “Judea and Samaria” [West Bank] and the Gaza area are lands seized during warfare, and are not part of Israel. It will be hard for Israel to argue that it is not an occupier when its own Supreme Court says it is.

    • That is unfortunately a result of judicial activism. Certain individuals with political agendas ascended to Supreme Court Justices and exploited their positions to advance those agendas.

  6. THE LAWS OF NORTHERN CYPRUS ARE ACCEPTED IN EUROPE:
    (Northern Cyprus :=: Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus)

    Not only the “TRNC Immovable Property Commission (and its related laws)” but also “ALL THE LAWS OF TURKISH REPUBLIC OF NORTHERN CYPRUS” WAS ACCEPTED ON BEHALF OF EUROPE (European Court of Human Rights; ECtHR).
    ECtHR Decision 02.07.2013, App. nos. 9130/09 and 9143/09; Pavlides v. Turkey; Georgakis v. Turkey
    http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/Pages/search.aspx#{“fulltext”:[“Pavlides”],”documentcollectionid2″:[“CASELAW”],”itemid”:[“001-122907”]}

    ECtHR: “…notwithstanding the lack of international recognition of the regime in the northern area, a de facto recognition of its acts may be rendered necessary for practical purposes. Thus, THE ADOPTION BY THE AUTHORITIES OF THE “TRNC” OF CIVIL, ADMINISTRATIVE OR CRIMINAL LAW MEASURES, AND THEIR APPLICATION OR ENFORCEMENT WITHIN THAT TERRITORY, may be regarded as having a legal basis in domestic law for the purposes of the Convention”.

    Note: In the related ECtHR’s decision above, the case application of the Greek Cypriot was IMMEDIATELY REJECTED; i.e., his application was found INADMISSABLE.
    That is to say, he was expelled by ECtHR just at the beginning; therefore, his case was not handled (no sessions were held) by ECtHR at all.

  7. GREEK CYPRIOTS APPLIED BRUTAL GENOCIDE TOWARDS TURKISH-CYPRIOTS
    (PROOFS FROM UNITED NATIONS SOURCES ARE PRESENTED)

    Then–United Nations Secretary General, U Thant’s report: (UN SG S/5950, 10 September 1964, paragraph 180): “UNFICYP carried out a detailed survey of all damage to properties throughout the island during the disturbances; it shows that in 109 villages, MOST OF THEM TURKISH-CYPRIOT OR MIXED villages, 527 houses have been destroyed while 2,000 others have suffered damage from looting”.

    “MOST OF THEM TURKISH-CYPRIOT OR MIXED” means NONE of the SOLELY GREEK CYPRIOT villages were damaged.
    The houses damaged in mixed villages were the houses of Turkish Cypriots.

    i.e. GREEK CYPRIOTS APPLIED BRUTAL ETHNIC CLEANSING TOWARDS TURKISH-CYPRIOTS.
    http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/Chapter-VII-S-5950.pdf

    Greek Cypriots even killed 16-day old Turkish Cypriot babies.

    Greek Cypriots brutally killed Turkish Cypriot kids; the images:
    http://kktc392.tr.gg/Kibris-Katliamlari.htm

    Greek Cypriots brutally killed Turkish Cypriot kids; the images:
    http://www.t2174a.com/?p=8266

    Greek Cypriot EOKA B’s massacres on Turkish Cypriots:
    Dead bodies of Turkish Cypriot civilians at Sandallar (Santalaris):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maratha,_Santalaris_and_Aloda_massacre

    GREEKS’ MASSACRES over TURKS in Cyprus island:

  8. USA’s FEDERAL COURT: “NORTHERN CYPRUS IS A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC”
    USA’s FEDERAL COURT and USA’s COURT OF APPEALS REJECTED GREEK CYPRIOTS

    ==1. USA’s FEDERAL COURT REJECTED GREEK CYPRIOTS: THE TOUMAZOU CASE-LAW==
    “..Greek Cypriots CANNOT CLAIM that the government in control of Northern Cyprus gave their homes to Turkish Cypriots….
    Although the United States does not recognize it as a state, the TRNC purportedly operates as a DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC with a president, prime minister, legislature and judiciary…
    TRNC is NOT VULNERABLE to a lawsuit in Washington”

    The news of the Court Decision (13.10.2014): http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/10/13/72392.htm
    Page of the Court case: http://dockets.justia.com/docket/district-of-columbia/dcdce/1:2009cv01967/139002
    Decision of the Court: http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/district-of-columbia/dcdce/1:2009cv01967/139002/53

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