Regular readers need no reminder of the fact that the BBC’s coverage of internal Palestinian affairs, including human rights issues and politics, is – to put it generously – minimal.
In recent weeks alone, BBC audiences have not seen any English language coverage of Fatah’s 7th congress or Mahmoud Abbas’ apparently unanimous re-election to the post of head of that party. Neither have they been provided with any reporting on the splits and rivalries within the party that dominates the Palestinian Authority and the PLO and the related violence in PA-controlled areas. It was therefore unsurprising to see the BBC ignoring the following story.
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday lifted the parliamentary immunity of five PA lawmakers, as he readied to level charges against them, sources in Abbas’s office and the Palestinian parliament said.
The five MPs include Mohammad Dahlan, the former Gaza strongman who was ousted from Fatah by Abbas in 2010, and four other lawmakers: Shami Shami, Najat Abu Bakr, Nasser Juma and Jamal Tirawi.
They will face charges of embezzlement, weapons smuggling, defamation and insults, according to the sources, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.
According to one source, “The whole issue related to existing conflicts” between Abbas and Dahlan. […]
Earlier in November, the Palestinian Constitutional Court, a body set up a few months earlier by Abbas himself, issued a decision confirming the right of the PA president to lift the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers in the Palestinian Legislative Council.”
“Abbas formed the PA Constitutional Court in April, a move that many analysts viewed as a power grab. […]
Jihad Harb, a Palestinian researcher and analyst, told The Jerusalem Post the court’s ruling “grants the president executive power to hold a sword to the neck of parliamentarians, especially those who oppose his policies.””
Further developments in the story were seen this week.
“Palestinian forces entered the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, and removed three lawmakers who had sought refuge there.
MPs Shami Shami, Najat Abu Bakr and Jamal Tirawi, who along with Nasser Juma are all allies of Mohammad Dahlan, the former Gaza strongman who was ousted from Fatah by Abbas in 2010, were holed up in the International Red Cross offices, where they appealed for protection by the international community. […]
Arabic media reported that initially the parliamentarians were denied entry to the Palestinian legislature. They then went to the Red Cross building seeking international protection. A few hours later, Palestinian security forces entered the building, bringing out the lawmakers.”
It is of course difficult to imagine that such a story would have been deemed not newsworthy by the BBC had it taken place in any other location.