In January the BBC responded to a complaint concerning its selective coverage of a speech made by the Palestinian Authority president at a PLO meeting as follows:
“He gave a two-hour speech and we have selected what we believe to be the relevant sections as far as the topic in hand is concerned.
We don’t believe the rest of Mr Abbas’s comments are relevant, or reveal anything that was not previously known– our report contains a section entitled “Did he say anything new?”.
Out of his full speech, you have made a selection of comments that you felt were of note – we believe we have carried the most newsworthy and there will be many more from such a long presentation that will not get reported.” [emphasis added]
As was noted here at the time:
“Obviously the BBC does not believe that – even at a time when the topic of foreign donations to the Palestinians is in the news – its audiences needed to know that Abbas pledged to continue the PA’s policy of making payments to convicted terrorists – a subject that it serially under-reports.
“There is an important matter, and it is the issue of the payments to [the families of] the martyrs, to the families of the martyrs and the prisoners. We steadfastly refuse to stop these payments, and we will not allow anyone to infringe on the payments to the families of the martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners. They are our sons, and we will keep paying them money.””
Along with other outlets the ITIC reports that:
“At its February 27, 2018, weekly meeting headed by Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian national consensus government authorized the PA general budget for 2018. It stands at $5 billion, with an income of $3.8 billion. Mahmoud Abbas gave final authorization.”
Readers may be aware that around 7% of the PA’s annual budget is typically allotted to payments for terrorists and their families and that in 2017 – when the annual budget was $4.48 billion – the PA’s financial rewards for terrorism amounted to over $340 million.
A bill relating to those PA payments to terrorists recently passed its first reading in the Knesset.
“Fifty-two MKs supported the bill introduced by MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) and a group of MKs, which would deduct welfare payments paid out by the Palestinian Authority to Palestinian prisoners and their relatives from tax revenues Israel transfers annually to the PA. Ten lawmakers voted against the legislation.
During the debate which preceded the vote, MK Stern said ”In this law there is no coalition or opposition. In the current situation there is an incentive to engage in terror activities, and this postpones peace. Palestinians themselves have testified during interrogations that they continued to engage in terror in order to be imprisoned and receive more money. This law is meant not only to promote the safety of the citizens and residents of the State of Israel, but also to promote peace.””
Should a version of that bill eventually become law, BBC audiences can expect, as in the past, to see reporting on the withholding of tax revenues to the PA. However audiences will be highly unlikely to understand the background to such reports seeing as the corporation serially avoids providing any serious reporting on the issue.
In one rare and brief mention of the topic last May, 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’.
Obviously it is high time for BBC audiences to see some serious, accurate and impartial reporting on this topic.