On June 20th an article titled “Israel starts work on first new West Bank settlement in 20 years” was published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.
“Israel has started work on the first new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank for more than 20 years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said.
He tweeted a photograph of a bulldozer and digger breaking ground for the settlement, to be known as Amichai. […]
“Today, ground works began, as I promised, for the establishment of the new community for the residents of Amona,” Mr Netanyahu announced on Tuesday.
“After decades, I have the privilege to be the prime minister who is building a new community in Judea and Samaria,” he added, using the biblical name for the West Bank.
Israel Radio reported that the work involved installing infrastructure for the settlement. However, the building plans still need to go through several stages of planning approval, according to the Times of Israel newspaper.”
Also in line with the Radio 4 report, this one too promotes Palestinian Authority messaging – and not least the accusation of a deliberate effort to sabotage negotiations – while failing to include any response from Israeli officials.
“A Palestinian official denounced the ground-breaking as a “grave escalation” and an attempt to thwart peace efforts. […]
Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters news agency that the ground-breaking was “a grave escalation and an attempt to foil efforts” by the administration of US President Donald Trump to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”
“More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land the Palestinians claim for a future state. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”
As is very often the case in BBC reporting on this topic, the narrative promoted in this report is borrowed from political NGOs.
“There are also almost 100 settler outposts – built without official authorisation from the Israeli government – across the West Bank, according to the Israeli anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now. […]
Amichai, previously known as Geulat Zion, will be constructed on an hilltop [sic] about 2.5km (1.5 miles) east of the settlement of Shilo, which is close to the site of Amona.”
The link in that second paragraph leads to the ‘Peace Now’ website and the article includes partisan and inaccurate maps produced by the foreign-funded NGO B’tselem (which engages in lawfare against Israel and is a member of a coalition of NGOs supporting BDS) that have appeared many times previously in BBC content.
The BBC News website’s coverage of the topic of construction in the neighbourhoods and communities it terms ‘settlements‘ has for years followed a standard pattern which contributes nothing new to reader understanding of the issue. Audiences inevitably find the standard BBC insert on ‘international law’ – which makes no attempt to inform them of legal views on the topic that fall outside the corporation’s chosen political narrative – and interested parties in the form of campaigning NGOs are repeatedly given uncritical amplification.
The BBC’s editorial guidelines on ‘controversial subjects’ state:
“When dealing with ‘controversial subjects’, we must ensure a wide range of significant views and perspectives are given due weight and prominence, particularly when the controversy is active. Opinion should be clearly distinguished from fact.”
Visitors to the BBC News website are clearly not being presented with the “wide range of significant views and perspectives” which would broaden their understanding of this issue.