Over the years we have taken note here of numerous instances (see some examples here, here and here) in which the BBC has misled its audiences by inaccurately referring to the 1949 Armistice Lines (also known as the ‘Green Line’) as ‘the 1967 border’.
As readers are no doubt aware, the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan specifically states that the ceasefire line – which is what the ‘Green Line’ is – is not a border.
With a specific view to the implementation of the resolution of the Security Council of 16 November 1948, the following principles and purposes are affirmed:
- The principle that no military or political advantage should be gained under the truce ordered by the Security Council is recognized;
- It is also recognized that no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.”
- The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.”
Moreover, the point is made abundantly clear in the BBC’s ‘style guide’.
“The Green Line marks the boundary between Israel and the West Bank. It is properly referred to as the 1949 Armistice Line – the ceasefire line of 1949. […]
In describing the situation on the ground, take care to use precise and accurate terminology. The Green Line is a dividing line or a boundary. If you call it a border you may inadvertently imply that it has internationally recognised status, which it does not currently have.”
Nevertheless – and perhaps precisely because this frequent error is rarely if ever corrected – the organization supposedly committed to building “a global understanding of international issues” continues to allow audiences to be misled and misinformed through the repeated use of inaccurate terminology.
The latest example of the use of the inaccurate term “’67 border” came in the May 18th edition of BBC Two’s flagship news programme ‘Newsnight‘ which the corporation has claimed is “routinely being watched by more than 700,000 people”.
Whilst interviewing Shimon Peres, presenter Evan Davies asked:
“Can you imagine now any situation – anything the Palestinians could do – in which Israel would agree to go back to this newly defined ’67 border.”
And no – we have no idea what “newly defined” means in this context either.
Also notable is Davis’ promotion of the notion that “it’s warranted to say that [the first Lebanon war] created Hizballah” – with no mention of no less relevant factors such as the Iranian revolution, Iranian policy or the Lebanese civil war.
In response to Shimon Peres’ assertion that “the chances for a two state solution exist”, Davis retorts:
“It doesn’t seem like it from the Israeli government though. Netanyahu didn’t mention it in his opening statement.”
As our colleagues at Presspectiva have pointed out (in Hebrew), none of the Israeli governments during the past two decades have specifically mentioned the two state solution in their founding guidelines. The new Israeli government’s founding guidelines do, however include the following:
“The government will advance the political process and aspire to a peace agreement with the Palestinians and with all our neighbours…”
One might assume that a reasonable level of proficiency in the subject matter – including the use of accurate terminology – would be a fairly basic requirement for an interviewer on a flagship news programme. These and other questions posed by Evan Davis raise the issue of whether the purpose of this interview was in fact to inform viewers or to promote the BBC’s own ‘world view’.