Readers may recall that in March of this year the BBC refrained from reporting on the ‘Taylor Force Act’ passed by the US Congress and also ignored the passing of the first reading of a bill relating to the same issue in the Israeli Knesset. On July 2nd that bill became law.
“The Knesset voted into law on Monday a bill to slash funds to the Palestinian Authority by the amount Ramallah pays out to convicted terrorists and the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks.
The bipartisan law passed by 87 to 15. […]
The bill says that welfare payments paid out by the PA to Palestinian prisoners and their relatives, as well as the families of slain attackers, must be deducted from tax revenues Israel transfers annually to the administrative body. The money withheld in this way would instead go into a fund designated to help victims of terror attacks.”
Around 7% of the PA’s annual budget is typically allotted to payments for terrorists and their families and in 2017 – when the annual budget was $4.48 billion – the PA’s financial rewards for terrorism amounted to over $350 million. Nevertheless, the BBC has serially avoided providing its audiences with any serious reporting on the issue.
In one rare and brief mention of the topic in May 2017, the BBC’s Middle East editor came up with a portrayal that is not only devoid of the word ‘terrorism’ but compares Israeli soldiers to convicted Palestinian terrorists.
“In his opening remarks, Mr Netanyahu said that if the bomber in Manchester was Palestinian, and his victims were Israelis, the Palestinian Authority would be paying a stipend to his family.
He was referring to a Palestinian Martyrs’ fund. It pays pensions to people it regards as victims of the occupation, including the families of individuals who have been killed attacking Israelis. There is also a fund to support Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel. The Palestinians have compared the payments to the salaries Israel pays to soldiers.”
The only other mention of the issue in BBC News website reporting over the last year came in the form of a paraphrased quote from the US ambassador to Israel in which the BBC replaced the word ‘terrorists’ with ‘militants’.
On the afternoon of July 3rd the BBC News website finally got round to mentioning the Israeli legislation that has been making its way through the Knesset for months – as well as the previously ignored US legislation – in a report titled “Israel freezes Palestinian funds over attacks payouts“.
In that report BBC audiences were told for the first time that:
“It [the Palestinian Authority] is estimated to spend about $330m each year – about 7% of its budget – on salaries and benefits under the programme.”
The BBC’s first mention of the Taylor Force Act comes in the last paragraph of the report:
“In March, the US Congress approved similar legislation, the Taylor Force Act, which suspends some US financial aid to the PA until it stops making payments to prisoners and their families. The act was named after an American killed in an attack by a Palestinian in Israel in 2016.”
The 14 paragraph report includes four paragraphs on the practicalities of the new Israeli law. Two paragraphs are devoted to reactions from Israeli politicians while Palestinian officials’ reactions are given five paragraphs of coverage.
However, a press release concerning “Reallocation of aid to the Palestinian Authority” that was put out by Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs on July 2nd apparently did not reach the BBC’s correspondent in Sydney.
As the Times of Israel and others reported:
“Australia has ended direct aid to the Palestinian Authority over fears its donations will be used to pay Palestinians convicted of terrorism and their families.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Monday that funding to a World Bank trust fund was cut after she wrote to the Palestinian Authority in late May seeking assurance that Australian funding was not being misspent.
In a statement, Bishop expressed concern that providing further aid would allow the PA to use the funds for activities that “Australia would never support.””
So while on the positive side BBC News website visitors at long last got to see a mention of American and Israeli legislation related to the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to terrorists, an Australian announcement related to the same topic was ignored.