There is of course nothing novel about the BBC’s promotion of the politicised narrative according to which ‘settlements are an obstacle to peace’. Last month we noted here that the statistics do not support the claim made by the corporation’s journalists that Israeli building in Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem endangers the two state solution. At the beginning of this month the BBC continued its promotion of that narrative in three separate items (here, here and here) which supposedly informed audiences about a report from the Quartet but actually airbrushed significant parts of its content.
On July 6th the BBC News website continued to propagate that narrative in an article titled “US criticises Israel over plans for new settlement homes” which relates to comments made by the same US State Department spokesman who just days earlier had refused to condemn an antisemitic libel promoted by the PA president in the European parliament (which the BBC chose to completely ignore).
The BBC News article tells readers that:
“The US has criticised Israeli plans to build hundreds of new homes in existing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
State department spokesman John Kirby called the plans the “latest step… in a systematic process of land seizures”.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply disappointed” by the Israeli government’s decision.
The international Quartet of Middle East peace mediators also recently criticised settlement construction.”
However, while amplifying statements that dovetail with its own chosen narrative, the report does nothing to enhance readers’ understanding of the background and context to the story.
Information concerning the 19 year-long Jordanian occupation and the status of those areas before the belligerent Jordanian invasion of 1948 which would enable readers to understand why Israel views those areas as disputed is absent from this article. As ever, the BBC promotes its regular mantra on ‘international law’ without informing audiences of the existence of legal opinions which challenge that narrative.
“About 570,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”
Readers are not informed that the announcement to which the US spokesman was relating came in response to a recent series of deadly terror attacks.
“Citing an Israeli official, the Associated Press reported that the Israeli plans included 560 new homes in Maale Adumim, just outside Jerusalem, as well as almost 200 in the city itself. The plan also called for more than 600 new homes in an Arab neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, AP said.”
Neither are they informed that the “600 new homes in an Arab neighbourhood” (which interestingly is apparently categorised as a “Jewish settlement” for the purposes of this report) are intended to house Arab families from Beit Safafa and are part of a project in Givat HaMatos that the BBC has been reporting on since 2012.
Several days before this article was published we learned via Yolande Knell that the BBC is aware of the fact that in any realistic scenario of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians such as those proposed in the Clinton parameters and the Olmert offer, the main blocs of Israeli communities would remain under Israeli control.
“If a peace deal was reached, it is generally accepted that many settlements would remain. Past negotiations are understood to have included mutually agreed land-swaps in which Israel would keep its major settlement blocs.”
The sites of the housing units proposed in this latest announcement (which is only a preliminary step before the issue of tenders) would all be included in such land swaps – Givat HaMatos/Beit Safafa, Ma’ale Adumim, Har Homa and Ramot.
One must therefore wonder why the writer of this article refrained from informing readers of that fact and instead opted for the context-free promotion of misleading polemics such as:
“Mr Kirby said: “If true, this report would be the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.””
Unfortunately the answer to that question is all too clear. The BBC has once again demonstrated that it is not interested in providing its audiences with the full range of information which would enable them to reach their own informed conclusions on this topic but prefers to amplify any and every statement or report which supports its own adopted political narrative, whilst at the same time downplaying or ignoring issues such as the foreign funded PA’s incitement and glorification of terror and Hamas’ terrorism.
That of course is campaigning – not journalism.