No BBC coverage of energy sector agreements between Israel and the PA

The topic of Israel’s withholding of tax revenue transfers to the Palestinian Authority has cropped up time and time again in the BBC’s Middle East coverage over the years. However, the BBC has repeatedly failed to adequately inform audiences of the relevant context of the PA’s massive debt to the Israel Electric Corporation and the reasons why that debt has accumulated.

BBC promotes selective narrative on PA economy

Critical omission in BBC News report on PA tax revenues

BBC again avoids informing audiences about PA debt to Israel

Multiple breaches of BBC editorial guidelines in BBC WS’s ‘Business Matters’ report from Bethlehem

Last week an agreement was reached in an effort to try to solve the perennial problem of that PA debt to the IEC.pylons

“Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement on Tuesday to resolve the Palestinians’ outstanding debt of almost NIS 2 billion ($530 million) to the Israel Electric Corporation.

Under the agreement, the PA will pay Israel NIS 570 million ($132 million), putting an end to the 10-year debt crisis. The balance of NIS 1.5 billion ($397 million) will be paid in 48 installments, according to AFP, which added that a portion of the debt — likely interest accrued over the years — is expected to be waived. […]

A joint Israeli-Palestinian committee will be formed to oversee the transfer of responsibility to the PA of power lines that supply electricity to Palestinian cities in the West Bank.”

The same week also saw an additional development in the energy sector.

“Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to move ahead with plans to build a gas pipeline to Gaza in an effort to boost energy and water supplies to the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave. […]

A source in the PA told The Times of Israel that Palestinian officials were told the Israeli political echelon gave the go-ahead Tuesday. Israel and the Palestinians are set to jointly request funding for the pipeline from a number of donor countries. A committee comprised of representatives of such donor states is set to meet in New York later this month. […]

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Netherlands will help Israel build the Israel-Gaza pipeline.

“We want to help the population of Gaza and the first step is to improve the supply of energy and water… including laying a gas pipeline,” Netanyahu said during a two-day visit to The Netherlands at the beginning of this month.”

Given that the topic of the chronic electricity crisis is a regular feature in BBC reporting from the Gaza Strip (and frequently inaccurately attributed to Israel), one might have expected the corporation to report this news. However, neither of those examples of cooperation between Israel and the PA has received any BBC coverage.

Weekend long read

1) At the JCPA, Yoni Ben Mehachem takes a look at a topic much neglected by the BBC: Fatah’s internal politics.Weekend Read

“The succession battle in the Palestinian Authority has become very elemental since Mahmoud Abbas rejected the request of four Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – to mend fences with his bitter rival Muhammad Dahlan. Some of those states want to see Dahlan as the next PA chairman.

Although some in Fatah view Abbas’ rejection of the Arab request as an act of “political suicide,” Abbas does not show signs of stress. At the urging of Egypt and Jordan, which fear Hamas, he called off the elections in the territories and consented to a return to Fatah by some of Dahlan’s people. As far as Abbas is concerned, he has complied with most of Egypt and Jordan’s requests. Yet, still, he is not prepared to countenance Muhammad Dahlan.”

2) The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reports on another Palestinian succession battle likewise ignored by the BBC to date.

“Many people consider Haniyeh the leading candidate to succeed incumbent Khaled Mashaal, 60, primarily because of where he lives — Gaza. Running against him is Moussa Abu Marzouk, 65, who already was the head of the political wing (1992-7), is now Mashaal’s deputy (along with Haniyeh), and is considered a close associate of groups belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood’s global network.

There is a third candidate, too, well known to every Hamas activist in Gaza, the West Bank, and abroad. His name is Khaled Mashaal.

As Palestinian commentators point out, Hamas’s constitution prevents Mashaal being re-elected again. But anything is possible when it comes to Mashaal (Abu al-Walid), who has held the post for 20 years. Hamas may have a hard time saying goodbye to him, almost as hard as Mashaal would have in saying goodbye to the job. As head of Hamas’s political wing, he enjoys extraordinary status not only among the Palestinians but also throughout the Middle East and the Muslim states. He and his relatives are believed to have accrued considerable property and wealth in Qatar.

Will he be prepared to step down? Quite a few experts doubt it.

And quite a few experts question whether the Hamas election process is going to much resemble democracy in the first place.”

3) At the Washington Post Professor Eugene Kontorovich writes about “Why the U.N.’s Israel obsession should worry even people who don’t care about Israel”.

“Everyone knows the U.N. spends a disproportionate time on Israel, but the data reveal that even within resolutions, it uses a unique legal vocabulary for the Jewish state. The scale of the difference is quite striking. […]

Since 1967, General Assembly resolutions have referred to Israeli-held territories as “occupied” 2,342 times, while the territories mentioned above are referred to as “occupied” a mere 16 times combined… Similarly, Security Council resolutions refer to the disputed territories in the Israeli-Arab conflict as “occupied” 31 times, but only a total of five times in reference to all seven other conflicts combined.”

4) Fathom has an interesting article titled “Othering Zionism: theoretical affinities between Islamists and the Anti-Zionist Left”.

“The political alliances between Islamist organisations and the anti-Zionist Left rests on an underlying theoretical compatibility, argues Sapan Maini-Thompson. He examines their shared ideological schema in which Jews appear only as alien, racist, colonial interlopers in the region while Islamist and even anti-Semitic ‘resistance’ movements are coded as authentic and so progressive.”

5) At the Tower, Professor Gerald Steinberg reflects on the fifteen years since the Durban Conference.

“For many observers, the “Durban Strategy” marked the coming-out party for a “new anti-Semitism.” Unlike more traditional forms of anti-Semitism, which were by nature more overtly religious or racial in their blatant discrimination towards Jews, new anti-Semitism conceals the millennia-old hatred in a contemporary package, one better suited for a 21st-century audience. This anti-Semitism exploits the language of universal human rights and civil society, with NGOs publishing false and distorted allegations regarding Israel, and creating and maintaining double standards that apply only to a single country. New anti-Semitism goes well beyond any notion of legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies, and instead promulgates hateful vilification of the country, its people, and its Jewish character.”

BBC still portraying incitement as an ‘Israel says’ story

Back in October 2015 the BBC News website produced a backgrounder titled “Is Palestinian-Israeli violence being driven by social media?” which actually did very little to inform audiences of the scale and significance of the incitement spread via social media, the kind of content appearing on such platforms or the use of social media by official Palestinian groups other than Hamas – including Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party – for incitement and the glorification of terrorism.backgrounder 

BBC coverage of a report produced by the Quartet at the beginning of July 2016, in which Palestinian incitement was identified as one of several factors ‘driving’ the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, played down that issue, preferring to focus audience attentions on the topic of ‘settlements’.

Also in July, BBC Technology produced a report titled “Israel angered by Facebook hatred rules” and incitement on social media was the topic of an additional article published later the same month under the title “Facebook sued by Israeli group over Palestinian attacks“.

Although BBC audiences had not been provided with any serious, comprehensive reporting on the subject of Palestinian incitement and the link between social media and the wave of terrorism against Israelis which emerged in the autumn of 2015, as was noted here at the time:

‘Nevertheless, the BBC found it appropriate to include amplification of the response of a terrorist organisation, which has long used social media for the propagation of terrorism, in its report.

“Hamas called the lawsuit an Israeli attempt to blackmail Facebook. […]

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, accused Israel of trying to turn it into a spy tool against Palestinians.

He said some Israeli politicians and soldiers had “expressed pride at the killing of Palestinians” on Facebook and other social media.

“The real test for the owners of Facebook is to reject this pressure,” he said.”‘FB art technology

However, Facebook obviously takes the subject seriously and so senior officials from the company recently visited Israel to discuss the issue of incitement. Ha’aretz reported that:

“Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that Facebook and YouTube had been complying in recent months with up to 95% of Israel’s requests for taking down content that the government says incites Palestinian violence. […]

Shaked and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, both of whom have been at the forefront of a campaign to force social media companies to crack down on incitement, met with Facebook executives visiting Israel on Monday.

The meeting comes amid growing concerns in Israel about so-called lone-wolf terrorists who are unaffiliated with formal organizations but are encouraged to acts of violence over the social media.

Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday reported that Shaked and Erdan had proposed to the Facebook executives that the company treat words like “intifada,” “stabbing,” “Nazis” and expressions such as “death to Jews” and “death to Arabs” as grounds for removing content. They also called for the same policy toward videos inciting viewers to stabbing attacks or containing anti-Semitic caricatures.”

According to Globes:

“Facebook said, “The Facebook delegation’s visit to Israel is part of the company’s “ongoing dialogue with policymakers and experts around the world to keep terrorist content off our platform and support counter-speech initiatives. Online extremism can only be tackled with a strong partnership between policymakers, civil society, academia and companies, and this is true in Israel and around the world. We had constructive discussions about these important issues and look forward to a continued dialogue and cooperation.””

There has to date been no follow-up reporting from the BBC concerning the visit of Facebook executives to Israel.

As recently as last Friday, BBC audiences were still being told that: [emphasis added]

Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

Despite the fact that the Quartet has said the same thing and Facebook obviously agrees, the BBC has yet to provide its audiences with information which would broaden their understanding of the connection between official and unofficial Palestinian incitement and the violence which first surged a year ago. 

 

BBC amplifies UN criticism of Israeli PM without providing relevant context

In an article date stamped September 15th (but which actually appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page the following day) the BBC chose to amplify some specific passages from earlier remarks made by the UN Secretary General.  Readers of “UN’s Ban: Netanyahu ethnic cleansing remarks ‘outrageous’” were told that:ban-art

“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has criticised Israel’s prime minister for saying Palestinians want the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews in the West Bank.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s use of the term in a video attacking opponents of Jewish settlement construction on occupied territory was “outrageous”, he said.”

While readers would not necessarily understand that the above (and later repeated) tendentious portrayal of the aim of Netanyahu’s video came from Ban himself, a more accurate description appears further down in the same article. 

“Last Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a video in English on his Facebook page in which he criticised people who described settlements as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.”

Predictably, the article includes amplification of the BBC’s stock mantra on Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria and certain districts of Jerusalem.

“Mr Ban stressed that settlements were illegal under international law.” […]

“About 570,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr Netanyahu called the demand that they leave “outrageous”.” […]

[Quoting Ban] “”Let me be absolutely clear: settlements are illegal under international law. The occupation, stifling and oppressive, must end.”

Israel rejects the assertion that the settlements are illegal, and over the past two weeks has advanced plans for another 463 housing units at four locations.”

As ever, the BBC compromises its own impartiality by failing to inform its audiences of the existence of alternative opinions on that particular issue of ‘international law’. Neither are readers told that more than half of those touted “463 housing units” are accommodation for senior citizens and that they, like the rest, are located in regions which, under any reasonable scenario, would remain under Israeli control in the event of an agreement.

But the most remarkable feature of this BBC report is that while it provides amplification for censure from Ban Ki Moon and Mahmoud Abbas, it makes no effort whatsoever to inform audiences of the facts behind the statements which are the subject of that criticism.

In 2010 Mahmoud Abbas told journalists:

“We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it,” 

He repeated that message in 2013:

“Abbas said that no Israeli settlers or border forces could remain in a future Palestinian state and that Palestinians deem illegal all Jewish settlement building within the land occupied in the 1967 Six Days War.”

And Abbas is of course not the only PA political personality to adopt such a position: here, for example, is the ‘moderate’ Sari Nusseibeh speaking to Al Jazeera in 2007.

“The Israelis now living in the territories of the future Palestinian state should return to living within the borders of the state of Israel. No Jew in the world, now or in the future, as a result of this document, will have the right to return, to live, or to demand to live in Hebron, in East Jerusalem, or anywhere in the Palestinian state.”

Moreover, in addition to demanding a Jew-free Palestinian state, Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues consistently refuse to recognise Israel as the Jewish state – i.e. to declare an end to their claims regarding that country and the ‘return’ of Palestinian refugees to its territory.

Of course Israelis do not have to dig too deep in their collective memory to recall that prior evacuation of all the Jews from their homes in Hebron in 1929, in Jerusalem in 1948 or in the Gaza Strip and parts of northern Samaria in 2005 did nothing to remove ‘obstacles to peace’. As former Labour MK Einat Wilf noted:

“While the settlements are not (to say the least) the best vehicle to make the argument about ethnic cleansing in the Israeli – Arab conflict, it’s not a bad idea to remind the world that it is the Arab side that has pursued a consistent policy of ethnically cleansing the Jews from the region – whether from Arab countries (successfully) or during the Arab war of 1947-1949 designed to crush the nascent State of Israel (mercifully a failure to this day).

It has to be said again and again: Had the Arabs not violently rejected the UN Partition proposal and opened war against the nascent State of Israel there would have been no displacement of Arab Palestinians and no refugees. If anything, when the cease fire lines were set in 1949 all Jews were ethnically cleansed from the Arab side of those lines, whereas Arabs remained securely on the Israeli side of it, becoming Israel’s Arab citizens.”

The BBC, however, chose to amplify Ban Ki Moon’s remarks without providing audiences with the relevant context which would enable them to judge their accuracy and relevance. The result of course is that once again – and despite the corporation’s remit – audiences are deprived of the opportunity to see beyond the BBC’s favoured political narrative.  

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BBC News silent on Abbas’ rejection of Jewish state

PA elections finally get some BBC coverage after postponement

On September 8th the BBC News website produced its first article dedicated to the topic of the municipal elections which were supposed to have taken place in the PA controlled areas and the Gaza Strip on October 8th but have now been postponed by a Ramallah court.

Prior to the appearance of that article – titled “Palestinian court delays municipal elections after challenges” – the sole reference to those elections seen by BBC audiences since their announcement came in the form of a fourteen word-long sentence in a report on a different topic.pa-elections-art

One might have assumed that coverage of the first election in a decade in which the rival parties Hamas and Fatah were set to take part would have been considered essential for the enhancement of BBC audience understanding of Palestinian internal affairs – especially as elections for both the Palestinian Legislative Council and the PA president have not been held during that time.

The BBC apparently thought differently and so audiences have received no insight whatsoever into the background to the municipal elections or the type of campaigning material put out by the parties involved. Neither have they been informed of stories such as Fatah’s nomination of a convicted terrorist as a candidate or the ‘concealment’ of some female candidates.

“In a move that has outraged Palestinian women and various Palestinian factions, a number of Palestinian lists contesting the upcoming local elections, scheduled to take place on October 8, have decided to omit the names and photos of female candidates.

Instead of referring to the female candidates by name and publishing their pictures, the electoral lists are using the terms “the wife of” or “sister.” […]

The decision to conceal the names and photos of female candidates is seen in the context of the increased “Islamization” of Palestinian society, which is already considered highly conservative.

Apart from being a severe blow to the struggle of Palestinian women for equality, the move is in violation of the 2005 Palestinian Local Election Law, which stipulates that candidates must be fully identified by name, age, address and registration number in the electoral list.

This anti-woman undertaking is not taking place only in the Gaza Strip, under the control of the Islamist Hamas movement. It is also baring its fangs in some parts of the West Bank, which is ruled by the Western-funded Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by Mahmoud Abbas.”

The BBC’s report on the postponement of the municipal elections ostensibly informs readers of the circumstances behind the court’s decision.

“Thursday’s ruling by the high court in the West Bank city of Ramallah came after a Hamas-controlled court in Gaza disqualified several candidate lists drawn up by Fatah on technical grounds.

A challenge was also lodged by a lawyer over the inability to hold the vote in occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after seizing it in the 1967 war but Palestinians want to be the capital of a future state.

“Elections can’t take place in one place and not the other,” said the presiding judge.

“The elections can’t take place in Jerusalem and its neighbourhoods. Also, there are problems with the formation of courts in Gaza… Therefore, the court decides to stop the elections.””

However, one relevant aspect of the story is absent from the BBC’s coverage.

“Palestinian sources told Haaretz that the election process was seriously harmed when the Gaza courts, which are essentially Hamas-run, decided to annul the lists of candidates associated with Fatah in Gaza.

 “These are courts that are illegitimate and they made an illegitimate decision, and so the PA Supreme Court cannot accept a situation in which there are two separate court systems: one in the state of Gaza Strip and another in the state of the West Bank,” they said.”

Despite the postponement of the elections having its roots in the Hamas-Fatah split, the BBC nevertheless closed its report by touting the short-lived 2014 ‘unity deal’ and with a euphemistic and unhelpful reference to “deep divisions”.

“Although Fatah and Hamas formally agreed a unity deal and a technocratic government in 2014, deep divisions remain, resulting in political paralysis.”

 The BBC itself reported the unilateral dissolution of that “technocratic government” over a year ago.

In January 2015 BBC audiences saw Yolande Knell attribute the failure of Palestinian democracy to flourish to “Israeli occupation” in a highly partisan report. The lack of serious BBC coverage of the background to the 2016 municipal elections once again demonstrates that – despite its obligation to enhance audience understanding of international affairs – internal Palestinian affairs are topic serially and severely under-reported by the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism”.

Update: A few hours after the appearance of this post, an article titled “Palestinian women fight elections name ‘censorship’” appeared in the ‘Feature’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page. 

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BBC News amplifies PA’s spin on Abbas KGB story

On September 8th an article titled “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ‘was KGB agent’” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. The article relates to a story first promoted by Channel 1 in Israel the previous day and it informs readers that:abbas-kgb-story  

“Israeli researchers have alleged that the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, worked for the Soviet intelligence agency the KGB in the early 1980s.

Researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem say a Soviet-era document lists him as an agent. […]

Researchers Gideon Remez and Isabella Ginor said the document, in an archive at Cambridge University, shows that Mr Abbas was a KGB spy when he lived in Damascus in Syria.

The document, which the University of Cambridge’s Churchill Archives Centre confirmed was authentic, was smuggled in to the UK by a defector called Vasily Mitrokhin.

It is entitled “KGB developments – Year 1983” and Mr Abbas identifies him [sic] by the codename “Krotov” or “mole”.

“‘Krotov’ – Abbas, Mahmoud, born 1935, origin Palestine, member of the executive committee of Fatah, PLO, Damascus, agent of the KGB,” says the brief entry.”

However, the report also promotes irrelevant linkage between that story and a completely unrelated topic.

“The [PA] president’s spokesman described the claim as an absurd Israeli “smear”.

He suggested it was made to derail attempts to re-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. […]

An adviser to the [PA] president told the BBC the allegation was made up by Israel.

He said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remained reluctant to meet Mr Abbas in a potential new round of peace talks organised by Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB staff member.””

Readers of the article are not told how “Israel” supposedly “made up” documents in the Cambridge University archives and despite uncritically amplifying the spin of PA officials, the article does not adequately clarify that the academic researchers have no connection to the Israeli government.  

Towards the end of the article, readers are told that:

“Mr Abbas was born in 1935 in what was then British mandate of Palestine. After the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 his family fled to the Syrian capital, where he was educated.”

In fact, historical record shows that it is more likely that Abbas’ family decided to leave Tsfat (Safed) before Israel declared independence on May 14th 1948.

“And what about Safed? Having declined an offer by Gen. Hugh Stockwell, commander of the British forces in northern Palestine, to mediate a truce, the Arabs responded to the British evacuation of the city with a heavy assault on the tiny Jewish community, less than a quarter their size. “Upon the British evacuation on April 16, we occupied all the city’s strategic positions: the Citadel, the Government House, and the police post on Mount Canaan,” recalled a local Arab fighter.

“We were the majority, and the feeling among us was that we would defeat the Jews with sticks and rocks.”

What this prognosis failed to consider was the tenacity of the Jewish resolve to hold on to Safed, awarded by the partition resolution to the prospective Jewish state, on the one hand, and the intensity of Arab flight psychosis, on the other. As tens of thousands of Arabs streamed out of Tiberias and Haifa within days of the British evacuation of Safed, members of the city’s leading families and ordinary residents alike decided that now was the time to escape – which is probably when Abbas’s affluent family fled. In the words of a British intelligence report, “Such is their state of fear [that] Arabs are beginning to evacuate Safed although the Jews have not yet attacked them.” […]

On May 2, following the bombing of the Arab quarter by the deafening albeit highly ineffective home-made “David’s mortar,” scores of Arabs fled Safed en route to the Jordan Valley, accompanied by a substantial number of Arab Liberation Army fighters. Four days later, the ALA’s regional commander reported that “the majority of the inhabitants have left [Safed’s neighboring] villages.

Their morale has collapsed completely.”

Heavy artillery bombardments of Jewish neighborhoods failed to do the trick, and as the final battle for the city was joined on the night of May 9 a mass flight ensued. By the time fighting was over the next morning, Safed’s entire Arab population had taken to the road; a day later, Hagana patrols reported that “the [Arab] quarter had emptied to a man,” with evacuees leaving behind “a huge quantity of weapons and ammunition.””

The article’s penultimate paragraph quotes a newly arrived BBC journalist currently visiting the Middle East.

“Although the biographical details are correct, the BBC’s Thomas Fessy in Jerusalem notes that the document does not say how and when Mr Abbas would have been recruited, whether he was paid, and how long he might have worked for the KGB.”

Interestingly, the article does not reflect an additional observation from Fessy.

fessy-tweet

As Reuters noted:

“Adding to the intrigue, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, whom Putin has tasked with arranging the Moscow summit, served two stints in the Soviet embassy in Damascus between 1983 and 1994, covering the period in which Abbas was purportedly recruited.

Bogdanov was in the area this week for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials.”

Clearly the BBC’s unchallenged amplification of vacuous spin from PA officials detracts from audience understanding of this story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend long read

1) Last month the BBC News website published a rare article about an incident related to internal affairs within the Palestinian Authority and its dominant party Fatah but no follow-up reporting on that topic has since appeared. MEMRI has produced a report on the background to that incident and its subsequent repercussions.Weekend Read

“Halawa’s killing marked the culmination of a series of violent clashes during the last few months between PA security forces and local armed forces, some of which belong to Fatah.These clashes stemmed from the refusal of influential families in the city to accept the PA’s authority. Some of these families, including the Halawa family, belong to factions within Fatah that do not support Fatah Chairman and PA President Mahmoud ‘Abbas.

Ahmad Halawa’s killing enraged many of the city’s residents, who regarded it as a grave and unjustified attack on a member of a prominent local family. The news of his death sparked further clashes that included gunfights between locals who support the Halawa family, some of them Fatah members, and PA security forces;  numerous arrests, and a general strike announced by the Nablus chamber of commerce. The killing also sent shockwaves through the Fatah movement in Nablus: the movement harshly condemned the activity of the PA security forces and declared a period of mourning in the city; moreover, many Fatah members quit the movement as a gesture of solidarity with the Halawa family and in protest of the PA security forces’ activity.”

2) Last week the UNSC extended the mandate of its peacekeeping force in Lebanon for an additional year. David Daoud of the FDD takes a look at “UNIFIL’s Unfulfilled Mandate“.

“…the Council commends the “positive role” UNIFIL has played in creating a “new strategic environment in south Lebanon” in the decade since the Israel-Hezbollah war of 2006. The resolution comes shortly after the force’s new commander commended it turning south Lebanon into an “an oasis of peace.” The truth is rather different: Israel and Hezbollah have had their own reasons for deferring war, ones that have little to do with UNIFIL.”

3) BICOM has been looking ahead at likely scenarios for the Palestinian Authority.

“Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is 81 years old, has publicly stated his intention not to compete again in elections and has appointed no successor. Given the state of the Palestinian system as well as increasing frustration with the PA and the moribund peace process with Israel, a chaotic battle for succession – one that is already underway – is the most likely scenario for the post-Abbas era.”

Links to that two-part study can be found here.

4) Over at the Tower, Annika Hernroth-Rothstein brings a fascinating and touching account of her visit to Iran and its Jewish community.

“Life behind the mechitza offers some much-wanted and rarely-found protection from the eyes and ears of the regime. It is there the women and I speak beyond a whisper, and before the Lecha Dodi prayer, I feel a hand on my arm, grasping desperately for my attention.

“Pray for us, will you, please?”

Her words are sad and real and stark, and they break the wall put up by her masters. I nod but fail to answer; I see a glimpse of her life but fail to fully understand; and I know there is nothing I can do but say a prayer and tell her story.”

Read the whole article here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part two

As noted in part one of this post, between April 1st and June 30th 2016, fifty-four reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians (along with others relating to non-Israeli Jews) appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, some of which were cross posted from other sections of the site. 24% of those reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism which were current at the time or follow-up to previously reported incidents.website

The remaining 76% of those articles can be divided into a number of categories. (The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Four reports related to historical subject matter.

Operation Solomon: Airlifting 14,000 Jews out of Ethiopia (25/5/16 to 28/5/16)

Items from Israel Entebbe hostage rescue (27/6/16 to 3/7/16)

Entebbe: A mother’s week of ‘indescribable fear’ (27/6/16 to 30/6/16) (discussed here)

WW2 Jewish escape tunnel uncovered in Lithuania’s Ponar forest (29/6/16 to 30/6/16)

Two reports can be categorised as miscellaneous.

‘Polish Catholic posed as rabbi’ in Poznan (20/4/16 to 21/4/16)

Angel mosaic revealed at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity (29/6/16 to 4/7/16)

10 reports related to Israeli diplomatic/international relations and/or political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Gush Etzion Junction: The deadly roundabout (28/4/16 to 1/5/16) (discussed here, here and here)

Israel-Palestinian tensions return to boiling point (4/5/16 to 12/5/16) (discussed here)

My son the bomber, my daughter the victim (5/5/16 to 9/5/16) (discussed here)

New hope for Holy Land’s minefield churches (16/5/16 to 18/5/16) (discussed here)

The most dangerous church in the world (16/5/16 to 17/5/16) (discussed here)

Israel-Palestinian two-state solution ‘in serious danger’ (3/6/16 to 6/6/16) (discussed here)Bangladesh art

Bangladesh home minister suggests Israel behind spate of killings (6/6/16 to 7/6/16) (discussed here)

Dead Sea drying: A new low-point for Earth (17/6/16 to 21/6/16) (discussed here)

Israel and Turkey end rift over Gaza flotilla killings (27/6/16 to 28/6/16) (discussed here)

Turkey plays diplomatic chess in Middle East (29/6/16 to 4/7/16) (discussed here)

Four reports cross-posted on the Middle East page related to UK politics and antisemitism.

MP Naz Shah suspended from Labour (27/4/16 to 28/4/16)

What’s the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? (28/4/16 to 2/5/16) (discussed here)

Jeremy Corbyn denies crisis as Ken Livingstone suspended (28/4/16 to 30/4/16)

Chief Rabbi condemns ‘offensive’ Corbyn anti-Semitism comments (30/6/16 to 1/7/16) (discussed here)

Seven reports related to Palestinian affairs.

Gaza cinema a new experience for many with first screenings in 20 years (8/4/16 to 15/4/16) (discussed here)

Palestinian doctor turns personal tragedy into dramatic play (15/4/16 to 19/4/16) (discussed here and here)

Traditional industries in the West Bank (17/5/16 to 20/5/16) (discussed here)

New Palestinian museum opens without exhibits (18/5/16 to 20/5/16) (discussed here)

More than half UN schools in Middle East targeted in conflicts (21/5/16 to 23/5/16) discussed here)

UN alarmed by Hamas plans for executions in Gaza (26/5/16 to 27/5/16) (discussed here)

Gazans squeezed by triple taxes as Hamas replaces lost income (20/6/16 to 26/6/16) (discussed here)

14 articles concerned Israel related stories – mostly domestic – and they can be divided into sub categories including:

a) reports relating to legal and/or criminal issues:

Israeli soldier ‘faces manslaughter’ for killing wounded attacker (31/3/16 to 1/4/16)

Video of Israeli soldier’s killing of Palestinian attacker fuels debate (11/4/16 to 17/4/16) (discussed here)

Israeli soldier charged over killing of wounded attacker (18/4/16 to 19/4/16)

Jerusalem Gay Pride: Ultra-Orthodox Jew convicted of murder over stabbing (19/4/16 to 20/4/16)

Israeli diamond dealer arrested amid huge fraud probe (21/4/16)

Israeli soldier goes on trial for killing wounded Palestinian attacker (9/5/16 to 10/5/16)

Jerusalem Gay Pride stabbing: ultra-orthodox Yishai Schlissel jailed for life (26/6/16 to 27/6/16) (discussed here and here)

b) immigration:

Ethiopian Jews’ Israel migration hope (28/4/16 to 2/5/16)

c) society:

Israel promotes Arab police officer to senior rank (13/4/16 to 15/4/16) (discussed here)

Jesus’s tomb in Jerusalem undergoes restoration work (6/6/16 to 8/6/16) (discussed here)

d) domestic politics:

Golan Heights ‘forever Israeli’, PM Benjamin Netanyahu vows (17/4/16 to 18/4/16)

Israel’s Netanyahu criticises military official over Nazi claim (8/5/16 to 9/5/16) (discussed here)

Israel politics: Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon resigns in protest (20/5/16 to 21/5/16) (discussed here and here)

Avigdor Lieberman named as Israel’s defence minister (25/5/16 to 27/5/16) (discussed here and here)

Internal Israeli affairs received twice as much coverage as Palestinian affairs during the second quarter of 2016. Notably, BBC audiences saw two relatively rare reports relating to social issues (taxes and executions) under the Hamas regime. As was the case in the first quarter, a significant proportion of the Israel related stories the BBC chose to publish related to domestic legal and/or criminal issues and those reports make up 13% of all the articles published during the second quarter.

q2-chart

Overall throughout the first half of 2016, 30.5% of the BBC’s reporting on Israel and the Palestinians related to security issues which were current at the time or were follow up to previously covered stories. The second most reported category in Q1 and Q2 was Israeli internal affairs (26.5%). Just 10.2% of the coverage related to Palestinian internal affairs.

q1-and-q2-chart

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part one 

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part one

Between April 1st and June 30th 2016, fifty-four reports with content relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. Some of the reports were produced by other departments or appeared on other pages of the website (e.g. ‘Europe’ or ‘UK Politics’) but were also posted on the Middle East page.website

Six of those articles related to the wave of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis which began in the autumn of 2015 and continued during 2016, albeit with lower intensity. As readers can see for themselves, not one of those headlines included the term ‘terror’ and that editorial policy is similarly apparent in the reports themselves. 

(The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Jerusalem bus bombing injures 21 (18/4/16 to 20/4/16) (discussed here)

Israel says Jerusalem bus bombing was Hamas suicide attack (21/4/16 to 24/4/16) (discussed here)

Tel Aviv shooting: Four killed in shopping centre attack (8/6/16 to 9/6/16) (discussed here)

Tel Aviv shooting: Israel suspends Palestinian permits (9/6/16 to 10/6/16) (discussed here)

Israeli troops ‘mistakenly kill Palestinian bystander’ (21/6/16 to 22/6/16)

Israeli girl stabbed to death by Palestinian inside bedroom (30/6/16 to 1/7/16) (discussed here)

A further 2 articles related to incidents concerning Hamas’ cross border tunnels.

Israeli troops uncover ‘new’ tunnel leading from Gaza (18/4/16 to 19/4/16) (discussed here)

Israel tank fire kills Gaza woman, medics say (6/5/16 to 8/5/16) (discussed here)

One report related to security issues along the border with Syria.

Syrian conflict: The view from Golan Heights (20/6/16 to 25/6/16) (discussed here)

One report related to a previous terror attack from October 2015.

Palestinians jailed for life for killing Israeli couple (22/6/16 to 26/6/16) (discussed here)

Notably, the word terror was found in the headline of one of three articles relating to terror attacks by Israelis.

Israel arrests six members of ‘Jewish terror cell’ (20/4/16) (discussed here)

Mohammad Abu Khdair murder: Israeli ringleader found guilty (19/4/16 to 20/4/16) (discussed here)

Mohammad Abu Khdair murder: Israeli ringleader jailed for life (3/5/16 to 5/5/16)

In all, 24% of the second quarter reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism which were either current at the time or were follow-ups to previously reported incidents. The additional topics found in the BBC’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians during the second quarter of 2016 will be discussed in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part two

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – April 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – May 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2016

 

PA’s salaries for terrorists in the news again – but not at the BBC

The Times of Israel’s Raphael Ahern reports that:

“The German government has for the first time admitted that the Palestinian Authority likely grants financial support to terrorists and their families, and vowed to further investigate the matter.

Following repeated queries by an opposition lawmaker, the Foreign Ministry in Berlin last week also acknowledged that funds for so-called “martyrs” and Palestinian prisoners sitting in Israeli jails for security-related offenses come not only from the Palestine Liberation Organization but partially from the PA’s own budget. […]

“If it is confirmed that parts of these described payments [to Palestinian security prisoners or their families] comes from the Palestinian Authority’s budget, the Federal Government will take the matter up with the Palestinian Authority and other partners,” the document states. “The Palestinian Authority and the PLO are called upon to take all necessary steps against the incitement of violence and to increase its efforts in the fight against terrorism.””

The article includes a recap of the history of this issue 

“In 2014, PA President Mahmoud Abbas — who is also the head of the PLO — closed the PA’s Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and converted it into a commission directly subordinate to the PLO.

“The aim of this deliberately misleading move was to alleviate pressure on the PA by donor countries that do not wish their money to be channeled to support terrorism,” Yigal Carmon, the president of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), told the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs in July. “However, the offices remained the same and the official in charge remained the same under a new job title. The source of the money remains the PA, which receives them from donor countries, and the overseeing body remains none other than the PA.””

In that same testimony, Yigal Carmon also gave US representatives an idea of the sums involved in the payments to convicted terrorists and ‘families of martyrs’.cash

“Palestinian President Mahmoud ‘Abbas has stressed more than once that “the prisoners are top priority.” As a result of this commitment, the PA invests significant sums in underwriting the expenses of the prisoners and their families – $137.8 million according to the PA’s 2016 budget (about 7% of which is for officials’ salaries and operating expenses).” […]

“The 2016 budget describes the PLO’s Institute for Care for the Families of Martyrs as the body “responsible for ensuring a dignified life to the families of all those martyred and wounded as a result of being participants or bystanders in the revolution.”

It is allocated just under $173 million ($172,534,733) for families of martyrs and the wounded within the homeland and outside it. The Institute’s operating expenses comes to about $1.5 million.”

This issue is obviously not only of interest to the government and the public in Germany, but also to tax payers in the many additional countries which donate aid to the Palestinian Authority – including of course Britain.  Additionally, familiarity with this issue is key to understanding both the eternal PA budget deficit and the background to Palestinian terrorism of the type which the BBC has spent much of the last year reporting. Nevertheless, it is a topic which has long been ignored  and remains firmly off the agenda of the self-described “standard-setter for international journalism”. BBC audiences around the world – and not least the corporation’s funding British public – must surely be asking why.