On September 13th an article titled “US approves record $38bn Israel military aid deal” was published on the BBC News website’s US & Canada and Middle East pages. The next day – for reasons unknown – the article was rewritten and its date stamp changed.
Notwithstanding its declared subject matter, the original article told BBC audiences that:
“It [the agreement] was approved despite frustration within the Obama administration at Israeli settlement building.”
“Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have also been a sticking point between the allies.
Only last month, the White House chided Israel for a “dramatic acceleration” in such building on occupied Palestinian territory.”
The amended version tells readers that:
“Pro-Palestinian groups criticised the deal, saying it rewards Israel despite the ongoing construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. […]
Last month, the White House warned that the construction of settlements posed a “serious and growing threat to the viability of a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”
The employment of phrases such as “Israeli settlement building”, “construction of Jewish settlements” and “construction of settlements” obviously leads BBC audiences to mistakenly believe that Israel is constructing new communities rather than – as is actually the case – building homes in existing towns and villages, most of which would under any reasonable scenario remain under Israeli control in the event of an agreement.
The use of the phrase “building on occupied Palestinian territory” of course prevents audiences from understanding that all construction takes place in Area C or in Jerusalem and that under the terms of the Oslo Accords – signed by the recognised representatives of the Palestinian people – the future of those areas is to be determined in final status negotiations and in the meantime, no limitation on construction in those areas is imposed by the Accords.
The sentence “[o]nly last month, the White House chided Israel for a “dramatic acceleration” in such building…” clearly does not clarify to readers the real story behind that hyperbole and in fact actively misleads audiences with regard to the pace of building compared to previous years.
The insertion of the mantra concerning ‘international law’ as ever conceals from BBC audiences the existence of legal opinions which do not conform to the BBC’s chosen narrative.
Ostensibly, this is an article about a subject other than ‘settlements’ but as we see, a highly partial and misleading view of that topic – which does not serve the BBC’s remit of “enhancing audience understanding” but rather advances a specific political narrative – is nevertheless shoehorned into the report.