BBC WS history show ‘explains’ Camp David summit failure

h/t JB

The August 4th edition of the BBC World Service radio history programme ‘Witness‘ is described in its synopsis as follows:

“In 2000 the US led a major effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. President Bill Clinton brought the two sides together at the leafy presidential retreat in Maryland. The Israeli leader, Ehud Barak and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, failed to reach any agreement and the summit ended in failure. Farhana Haider has been speaking to the senior American diplomatic interpreter and policy adviser, Gamal Helal who attended the Camp David summit.”

Promotion of the programme on Twitter showed that it purports to inform BBC audiences why the Camp David summit failed.

So what do listeners hear on that topic and what conclusions would they reach? [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

After introducing the programme, presenter Farhana Haider tells audiences that:

“Israel had been pushing for this summit. Chairman Arafat for the Palestinians had argued there’s not been enough progress on earlier agreements to merit such a high level meeting but President Clinton had pressed ahead.”

Later on Haider tells listeners that the actual process of negotiation:

“…involved the negotiating teams meeting with each other and also separately with the Americans on most days. Face to face contact between Arafat and Barak was very limited. Mistrust was clearly running deep, says Gamal.”

Helal: “The main meal was dinner and all three parties were attended by the principals. So during dinner was the only time when they would sit together. […] Sort of like mingling. What did not happen was a bilateral Palestinian-Israeli talks or the trilateral talks at the principals level. That did not happen because Prime Minister Barak did not want it.”

Haider alleges:

“…both sides were clearly under pressure from some of their own supporters not to make concessions. The US and the Israelis had also overestimated Arafat’s willingness to bargain away sovereignty over Jerusalem. In fact, the city’s final status was as much of a red line for Arafat as it was for Ehud Barak.”

 Gamal Helal recounts how, in a one-on-one conversation with Arafat he tried to persuade him to seize the historic opportunity and that:

“…at the end he looked at me and he said ‘I can’t’. And I said ‘why can’t you?’ He said if I accept this they will kill me’.”

Listeners never find out who ‘they’ are and Haider asks “could you sense his frustration?” without clarifying whether she is referring to Arafat or Clinton. Helal answers:

“Yes and I think there was also a lot of frustration as a result of Prime Minister Barak’s behaviour and attitude during Camp David. For example he promised that there would be negotiations around the clock and the two sides would be meeting discussing all permanent status issues and none of that happened. He basically locked himself up in his cabin. He met only with President Clinton. There was no bilateral meetings with Chairman Arafat except a very short encounter but no actual negotiations between the two leaders. He was not engaged at all. The Palestinians, when they saw that they decided to withdraw and simply say no to everything.”

Haider sums up the story:

“After 15 days of talks, nothing was agreed. Though President Clinton came and went, leaving the parties to continue their discussions, the basic problem was that the maximum Israel offered was less than the minimum the Palestinians could accept. On July 15 2000 the parties left Camp David, blaming the other for the failure.”

The Camp David summit did not end on July 15th 2000 but actually took place between the 11th and 25th of July. Although this programme clearly steers listeners toward the view that the negotiations failed because of “Barak’s behaviour and attitude”, a report published in the New York Times the day after the summit concluded gives a different account.

“The president [Clinton] and other American mediators made clear that it was Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, who balked in the end, and by all accounts the issue was Jerusalem, the Holy City both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their sacred capital.

Speaking at the White House, Mr. Clinton singled out the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, for his readiness to make hard compromises. ”I would be making a mistake not to praise Barak, because I think he took a big risk,” the president said. ”The prime minister moved forward more from his initial position than Chairman Arafat, particularly surrounding the question of Jerusalem.””

In an interview he gave to Ha’aretz in 2002, Ehud Barak cast light on the circumstances behind Helal’s claim that he “locked himself up in his cabin” and the allegation that the Palestinian delegation’s negative responses were the product of Barak not being “engaged”.

“The moment of truth at Camp David occurred when Clinton brought his ideas and put them on the table. Overall, Clinton’s ideas said that in return for ending the conflict and acquiescing to some Israeli security demands and leaving 80 percent of the settlers in Israeli territory, [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat would get a sovereign Palestinian state, demilitarized and contiguous, in ninety-something percent of the West Bank and a hundred percent of the Gaza Strip. Including exit points to the neighboring countries, a hold in East Jerusalem and the right of return to the Palestinian state but not to Israel. Israel would agree to accept a certain amount of refugees on a humanitarian basis but not a single one on the basis of the right of return.

For us these ideas are no simple matter. They are far from a simple matter. Especially when you try to go into a bit of detail about Jerusalem. But we held lengthy discussions and in the end we decided, because of considerations of historic responsibility, that we have to accept the plan as a basis for discussion. Arafat twisted and turned with it and effectively said no. Clinton went back to him and pounded on the table and Arafat again did not answer but effectively gave an answer that was no.

At this stage Clinton has to go to Okinawa, for a meeting of the G-8. So I say to him, Look, until you extract readiness from Arafat to accept your ideas as a basis for negotiations, there is nothing to discuss. It is hard for us, too, we also have reservations, these ideas are very close to the Palestinian position, but we accept them as a basis for discussion. When you get a positive answer out of Arafat, I’m here. You know where my cabin is.

Clinton goes off to Okinawa, leaving me with the impression that he understands that there can be no discussion. But he leaves a different impression with his staff and with the Palestinians. They understand that in the meantime the discussions can proceed with [secretary of state Madeleine] Albright. When I discover this, I find myself in an impossible position. That is the origin of the story that Barak locked himself in his cabin in a state of depression. But in fact I had no choice. I couldn’t undercut Albright but I couldn’t continue with the negotiations, either. So I told everyone to leave my cabin and I did some sports and I read the book `Five Days in London’ from cover to cover.”

As for Haider’s claims that “both sides were clearly under pressure from some of their own supporters not to make concessions” and her description of Jerusalem as “a red line […] for Ehud Barak”, Israel’s top negotiator at Camp David, Shlomo Ben Ami, has some interesting recollections.

“Question: I understand that there was a stage at which Barak astonished everyone by agreeing to divide the Old City of Jerusalem into two quarters under Israeli sovereignty and two quarters under Palestinian sovereignty. Did he do that on his own or was it a joint decision made by the entire Israeli team?

Ben Ami: “As I told you, I suggested that a special regime be introduced in the Old City. In the wake of that discussion, sometime later, the president put forward a two-two proposal, meaning a clear division of sovereignty. In a conversation with the president, Ehud agreed that that would be a basis for discussion. I remember walking in the fields with Martin Indyk [of the State Department] that night and both of us saying that Ehud was nuts. We didn’t understand how he could even have thought of agreeing. Afterward I wrote in my diary that everyone thinks that Amnon [Lipkin-] Shahak and I are pushing Barak to the left, but the truth is that he was the one who pushed us leftward. At that stage – this was the start of the second week of the meeting – he was far more courageous than we were. Truly courageous. Clinton told me a few times: I have never met such a courageous person.””

And Ben Ami also comments on why the Camp David summit failed.

“Camp David collapsed over the fact that they [the Palestinians] refused to get into the game. They refused to make a counter proposal. No one demanded that they give a positive response to that particular proposal of Clinton’s. Contrary to all the nonsense spouted by the knights of the left, there was no ultimatum. What was being asked of the Palestinians was far more elementary: that they put forward, at least once, their own counter proposal. That they not just say all the time `That’s not good enough’ and wait for us to make more concessions. That’s why the president sent [CIA director George] Tenet to Arafat that night – in order to tell him that it would be worth his while to think it over one more time and not give an answer until the morning. But Arafat couldn’t take it anymore. He missed the applause of the masses in Gaza.” […]

“But when all is said and done, Camp David failed because Arafat refused to put forward proposals of his own and didn’t succeed in conveying to us the feeling that at some point his demands would have an end. One of the important things we did at Camp David was to define our vital interests in the most concise way. We didn’t expect to meet the Palestinians halfway, and not even two-thirds of the way. But we did expect to meet them at some point. The whole time we waited to see them make some sort of movement in the face of our far-reaching movement. But they didn’t. The feeling was that they were constantly trying to drag us into some sort of black hole of more and more concessions without it being at all clear where all the concessions were leading, what the finish line was.”

Obviously the explanation of why the Camp David talks failed given in this BBC World Service ‘history’ programme is heavily tipped towards a particular politicised narrative that does not accurately reflect the whole story and therefore misleads BBC audiences.

Reviewing BBC ‘historical record’ of the July 2017 Temple Mount story – part two

In part one of this post we looked at what the BBC News website reported – and what not – throughout the first week of the events that took place in Jerusalem and elsewhere between July 14th and July 28th in order to assess the ‘historical record’ that remains available to members of the public trying to find information on those events.

While the first week of events received little BBC coverage with only four reports (3 written and one filmed) published between July 14th and July 21st inclusive, the second week saw the publication of ten reports (9 written and one filmed).

Saturday, July 22nd:

Events covered by BBC: Violent rioting continues – two Palestinians killed (one apparently self-inflicted).

BBC report: “Jerusalem: Metal detectors at holy site ‘could be removed’

Events not reported by the BBC: Fatah incitement continues. Turkish president issues statement condemning Israel. Anti-Jewish demonstration at synagogue in Istanbul.

Sunday, July 23rd:

Events covered by the BBC: Israeli police install security cameras at entrances to Temple Mount. Arab League issues statementIncident at Israeli embassy in Amman.

BBC reports: “Jerusalem: Israel installs security cameras near holy site“, Israeli ‘kills attacker’ at Jordan embassy

Events not reported by the BBC: Waqf issues statement rejecting any and all security measures. Violence continues in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Violent demonstrations at synagogues in Istanbul. Missile fired from Gaza Strip.

Monday, July 24th:

Events covered by the BBC: Israeli staff at Amman embassy return to Israel.

BBC reports: Israel and Jordan in diplomatic standoff after embassy deaths“, Israeli embassy staff home after Amman standoff “, Jerusalem holy site tensions ‘must ease by Friday’” (discussed here)

Events not reported by the BBC: Missile fired from Gaza strip (discussed here). Stabbing in Petah Tikva.  PA minister promotes incitement on PA TV.

Tuesday, July 25th:

Events covered by the BBC: Metal detectors removed. Waqf issues statement continuing boycott. Abbas maintains freeze on ties with Israel.

BBC reports: Israel removes flashpoint metal detectors at Jerusalem holy site“, Palestinian-Israeli contact to stay frozen, says Abbas

Events not reported by the BBC: Jordanian parliamentarians protest their government’s handling of embassy incident. Turkish president makes inflammatory statements. Fatah continues incitement. Violence continues.

Wednesday, July 26th:

Events not reported by the BBC: Abbas mobilises Fatah Tanzim ahead of Friday demonstrations, PA and Fatah continue incitement. Hamas calls for ‘Day of Rage’ on Friday. PLO declares continuation of boycott. Waqf presents list of demands to Israeli police.

Thursday, July 27th:

Events covered by the BBC: Remaining security measures removed. Waqf lifts boycott, Muslim visitors return to Temple Mount. Violence continues.

BBC reports: Israel removes Jerusalem flashpoint security apparatus “,Palestinians return to holy site after Israel security reversal“,Jerusalem holy site: Cheers as scaffolding removed“, Jordan’s King Abdullah calls for Israel trial over embassy deaths” (discussed here)

Events not reported by the BBC: Funerals for terrorists held in Umm al Fahm. Arab League accuses Israel of ‘desecration’ of holy site. Palestinians barricade themselves inside al Aqsa mosque.

Friday, July 28th:

Events covered by BBC: Men under 50 temporarily barred from entering Temple Mount after threats of violence.  Violent rioting on Gaza border and elsewhere. Attempted stabbing in Gush Etzion.

BBC reports: “Jerusalem holy site measures fail to halt clashes” 

Events not reported by BBC: Anti-Israel protests in Jordan and Iran.

As we see, BBC audiences were not provided with coverage of this story as it began with no reporting on developments that followed the July 14th terror attack seen until the appearance of Yolande Knell’s ‘backgrounder’ on July 20th.

In the coverage that was provided we see a complete absence of reporting on Palestinian Authority and Fatah incitement and no mention at all of the Northern Islamic Movement. The level of violence was often played down with rioting described as “protests” and with one exception, additional terror attacks were not reported. Apart from brief belated mentions of one demonstration in Jordan, anti-Israel demonstrations and inflammatory statements by politicians in other countries were completely ignored. Significantly, BBC audiences saw no reporting at all on the violence against the Jewish community in Istanbul.

As noted here previously (see ‘related articles’ below), the BBC’s coverage mostly failed to provide audiences with the essential facts behind the key issue of the ‘status quo’ at Temple Mount and frequently employed partial terminology that endorses the Palestinian narrative. 

Related Articles:

Why the BBC’s failure to cover faux outrage in Jerusalem matters in the UK

Did the BBC adequately explain the Temple Mount ‘status quo’?

A part of the Temple Mount ‘tensions’ story that BBC audiences were not told

PLO recommended terminology continues to appear in BBC content

Reviewing BBC ‘historical record’ of the July 2017 Temple Mount story – part one

 

Reviewing BBC ‘historical record’ of the July 2017 Temple Mount story – part one

Coverage of the events in Jerusalem – and related events elsewhere – during the second half of July naturally appeared on a variety of BBC platforms (see ‘related articles’ below) but the information that will continue to be accessible to the general public as what the corporation calls ‘historical records’ is that published on the BBC News website.

So how will that story be perceived by anyone trying to understand it in the future? Comparing the timeline of actual events with the information provided in the relevant BBC reports allows us to answer that question.

Friday, July 14th:

07:00 – Three terrorists from Umm al Fahm attack and kill two Israeli policemen stationed at Lions’ Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Temple Mount closed to civilians as police conduct investigation.

BBC report: “Israeli police killed in attack near Jerusalem holy site” (discussed here)

Events covered by the BBC: Terror attack lauded by Hamas. Mufti and al Aqsa preacher briefly detained by police. Waqf demands re-opening of site and calls for mass prayer in the streets. PA president Mahmoud Abbas condemns the attack.

Events not reported by the BBC: Terror attack lauded by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and outlawed northern Islamic Movement’s Raed Salah. Fatah issues statement condemning closure of site and calls for ‘rage’. Jordan demands immediate re-opening of site. PA president Mahmoud Abbas calls for reversal of site closure. Arab League and OIC condemn the closure – but not the terror attack. Firebomb attack in Jerusalem.

Saturday, July 15th:

Events not reported by the BBC: Temple Mount remains closed. Jordanian government spokesman demands that Israel open the site, despite ongoing police investigation. Demonstrations in Amman. Fatah incitement continues. Shooting attack in Ateret.

Sunday, July 16th:

Events covered by the BBC: 12:00 – Temple Mount re-opened to Muslim (only) visitors (briefly mentioned in a BBC report on another topic).

Events not reported by the BBC: Metal detectors installed at some of entry gates to Temple Mount: two gates in operation, around 600 worshippers visit. Waqf refuses to enter the site, instructs others to so the same and instigates protest. Jordanian parliament prays for perpetrators of Friday’s terror attack. Northern Islamic Movement incitement continues. Rioting continues.

Monday, July 17th:

Events not reported by the BBC: Temple Mount re-opened for non-Muslim visitors, three gates opened to Muslim visitors. Waqf issues statement condemning metal detectors and instructing Muslims to pray outside the site. Rioting and demonstrations continue; PLO’s Mustafa Barghouti participates.  Fatah calls for a ‘Day of Rage’ on July 19th.

Tuesday, July 18th:

Events not reported by the BBC: Violent demonstrations continue. Vehicular attack near Hebron.

Wednesday, July 19th:

Events not reported by BBC: Temple Mount briefly closed to non-Muslim visitors. PA prime minister calls on international community to force Israel to remove metal detectors. Waqf instructs Jerusalem mosques to close on Friday and send congregations to the streets. Fatah declared ‘Day of Rage’ – violent demonstrations continue.

Thursday, July 20th:

BBC publishes its first report since July 14th: “Jerusalem holy site security row explained“, by Yolande Knell (discussed here).

Events not reported by the BBC: Police release video of preparations for terror attack including smuggling of weapons into al Aqsa mosque by accomplice. Although later reports told audiences that “Israel says” that weapons were smuggled into the site (but did not specifically mention the mosque), the video itself did not appear in any BBC content.

Attempted stabbing in Gush Etzion. Violent demonstrations continue. Hamas calls for mass protests on Friday.

Friday, July 21st:

Events reported by the BBC: Access to Temple Mount continues to be open. Rioting in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Three Palestinian rioters killed.

Mahmoud Abbas announces end to ‘all contacts’ with Israel. Three Israelis murdered and one wounded in terror attack in Halamish. Hamas praises attack.

BBC reports: East Jerusalem: Palestinians killed as holy site tensions soar” (discussed here), Bethlehem: Israeli forces and Palestinians clash“, by Yolande Knell (discussed here), Three Israelis stabbed to death in West Bank attack” (discussed here).

Events not reported by the BBC: Abbas announces $25 million budget to support ‘steadfastness’. Fatah incitement continues. Anti-Israel demonstrations in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Malaysia (demonstrations in Jordan briefly mentioned in later July 24 reports)

Part two of this post will examine the second week of BBC coverage of events.

Related Articles:

BBC coverage of the Jerusalem terror attack – part two: BBC radio

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part one

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part two

BBC WS ME editor gives a partial portrayal of the Temple Mount story

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ promotes equivalence between violent rioters and victims of terror

BBC WS passes up the chance to tell listeners about PA incitement

Why the BBC’s failure to cover faux outrage in Jerusalem matters in the UK

PLO recommended terminology continues to appear in BBC content

As noted in earlier posts (see here, here and here), listeners to BBC World Service radio recently saw the return of a practice that was documented on these pages just over a year ago. The reappearance of that practice has not however been limited to that particular BBC platform: it has also been seen in reporting on the BBC News website.

The background to the story is as follows:

The BBC Academy’s style guide includes instruction for the corporation’s producers and journalists on the correct terminology to be used when reporting on Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Temple Mount – both words capped. Note that the area in Jerusalem that translates from Hebrew as the Temple Mount should also be described, though not necessarily in the first four pars, as known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (ie lower case ‘al’, followed by a hyphen – and never ‘the al-Haram al-Sharif’, which is tautological). The Arabic translates as the Noble Sanctuary.” [emphasis in the original]

That guideline was generally followed in the past but in late 2014, audiences began to see the employment of different terminology by some BBC journalists. The term ‘al Aqsa Mosque compound’ – or even just ‘al Aqsa Mosque’ – was employed to describe what the BBC previously called Haram al Sharif with increasing frequency from November 2014 onward. 

So how and why did that deviation from the BBC’s recommended terminology come about? The change in language first appeared in November 2014. At the beginning of that month – on November 5th – the PLO put out a “media advisory” document (since removed from its website) informing foreign journalists of its “[c]oncern over the use of the inaccurate term “Temple Mount” to refer to Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem”. That directive is of course part and parcel of the tactic of negation of Jewish history in Jerusalem used by the PLO and others.

Since the July 14th terror attack at Lions Gate, visitors to the BBC News website have seen the term “al Aqsa mosque compound” used in a third of the reports relating to Temple Mount that were published between July 14th and July 28th.

1) “Jerusalem holy site security row explained” 20/7/17, Yolande Knell (discussed here):

Knell: “Now the gate to the al Aqsa mosque compound is open once again but to reach it you have to pass through one of those metal detectors.” [emphasis added]

In written reports, BBC audiences saw both the use of terminology that more or less complies with the BBC Academy’s style guide as well as language that complies with the PLO’s instructions to foreign journalists.

2) “Jerusalem: Israel installs security cameras near holy site” 23/7/17:

“Tensions over the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, have surged in recent days, with further deaths.

The site in Jerusalem’s Old City is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and holiest site in Judaism. It is also the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.” [emphasis added]

3) “Jerusalem holy site tensions ‘must ease by Friday’ ” 24/7/17:

“Nikolay Mladenov urged a rapid solution to the current crisis over the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. […]

The site in Jerusalem’s Old City is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and holiest site in Judaism. It is also the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.” [emphasis added]

4) “Israel removes flashpoint metal detectors at Jerusalem holy site” 25/7/17:

“It followed the killing on 14 July of two Israeli policemen by Israeli-Arab gunmen, who police say had hidden their weapons on the hilltop site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. […]

The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem’s Old City is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and holiest site in Judaism. It is also the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.” [emphasis added]

5) “Palestinian-Israeli contact to stay frozen, says Abbas” 25/7/17:

“Both sides are under pressure from the international community to resolve the row over the holy site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. […]

The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem’s Old City is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and holiest site in Judaism. It is also the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.” [emphasis added]

6) “Jerusalem holy site measures fail to halt clashes”  28/7/17:

“Palestinians returned to the hilltop site known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and Jews as the Temple Mount on Thursday after Islamic authorities lifted a two-week boycott called in protest at new Israeli security measures there. […]

Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and the holiest place in Judaism. It is also the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven, according to Islamic tradition.” [emphasis added]

The above-mentioned instructions in the BBC Academy’s style guide remain unchanged. However, as we see, journalists on the ground have returned to the practice of promoting the politically partisan, PLO recommended, term “al Aqsa mosque compound” – thereby compromising the BBC’s reputation as an impartial media organisation.

Related Articles:

Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part one

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part two

BBC WS passes up the chance to tell listeners about PA incitement

 

 

BBC WS passes up the chance to tell listeners about PA incitement

The lead story in the July 27th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ related to the removal of security measures at the entrance to Temple Mount. In all, almost 28% of the programme’s total air time was devoted to that particular story.

Presenter Razia Iqbal introduced the first part of the item (from 00:53 here) as follows: [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]

Iqbal: “We begin though with the resolution of a story that has been bubbling away since mid-July in the city of Jerusalem and which was showing signs of escalating more widely in the region. The location? A potent cauldron that is a sensitive and holy site to both Jews and Muslims known as Temple Mount to the Jews and as Haram al Sharif to the Muslims. And the issue? Israel’s decision to install new security measures at the entrance of al Aqsa after two Israeli policemen were killed by three assailants.”

Those new security measures were of course installed at the entrance to the site as a whole rather than at the entrance to the mosque named al Aqsa. In other words, we see here that Iqbal – like some of her colleagues – has adopted terminology recommended by the PLO in an ‘advisory’ document put out to members of the foreign media in 2014.  She continued, failing to inform listeners that the attack on the two policemen was a terror attack and of the relevant fact that the perpetrators used guns smuggled into al Aaqsa mosque by an accomplice.

Iqbal: “The authorities say the men initiated the attack from inside the compound. The installation of metal detectors prompted protests and they were replaced with cameras which also did not satisfy Muslims who boycotted the area. Instead of praying in the mosque, they did so on the streets. It was a tense situation. Israeli police have now removed all new security measures and the situation has returned to what it was before July the fourteenth. Muslim officials say they’re satisfied and that they’ll urge worshippers to begin praying at the site again.”

The programme’s worldwide listeners then heard Iqbal again refer to Temple Mount as “al Aqsa mosque” as she described scenes that actually took place outside Lions Gate, along with comments from two people who made identical remarks in a video put out by Reuters – both of whom were not “outside al Aqsa mosque” but on streets elsewhere in the city.

Iqbal: “Palestinians gathered outside al Aqsa mosque to celebrate. The fate of the site is an emotional issue and many Palestinians like Umm Dir [phonetic] hope it’s a first step towards Israel giving up control.”

Voiceover: “Thanks to God it’s a victory. And with God’s help we hope that a time will come in which we will see all of Jerusalem and Palestine free.”

Iqbal: “Salim Amr [phonetic] from East Jerusalem expressed his gratitude, quoting from the Koran.”

Voiceover: “This is a blessing from God. If you stand for God, God will help you in victory. The closer you are to God, God will help us.”

Iqbal next introduced comment from a member of the Waqf but without clarifying to listeners that he and his organisation were central to the initiation and perpetuation of the boycott of the site supposedly over security measures, using the canard that they ‘violated’ the status quo. Neither did Iqbal inform audiences that Salhab has a rich history of denial of Jewish history and rights on Temple Mount and promotion of incitement using baseless rumours about ‘threats’ to the site.

Iqbal: “Abdul Azim Salhab is the head of the Waqf council: a Jordanian-backed body that oversees the Muslim religious sites in Jerusalem.”

Voiceover: “The destructive Israeli occupation tried to break the will of this nation – the Palestinian nation – and especially the people of Jerusalem who all stood proudly together. And we want them to keep standing to defend the holy al Aqsa mosque, outside the gates of the holy al Aqsa mosque and now – God willing – inside the gates of the holy al Aqsa mosque.”

Iqbal then spoke to an Israeli minister.

Iqbal: “So; some Palestinians seeing this as a victory. I’ve been speaking to Yuval Steinitz who is a member of Israel’s security cabinet and the minister of national infrastructure, energy and water resources. Is this decision a climb-down by the Israeli government?”

In his responses to Iqbal’s questions, Steinitz raised an issue which has been glaringly absent from the BBC’s coverage of this story as a whole.

Steinitz: “When we realised that this [security measures] is being used – or actually abused – in order to incite against Israel, against the Jews, not just in the Palestinian Authority but also in the wider Arab and Muslim world, we have to re-evaluate and we will consider other, maybe more sophisticated, less apparent but not less effective counter-measures in order to enhance security for all visitors in the region – Muslims, Jews and Christians.” […]

Steinitz: “…and if our enemies; Hamas, the Islamic movement and even the Palestinian Authority unfortunately – even the Palestinian Authority – are using this terrible terrorist incident and our necessary counter measures in order to incite against Israel, against Jews in general, you know, very strong – even antisemitic – kind of incitement, we have to diffuse this card; to consider other measures in order to enhance security.”

While BBC audiences did see brief whitewashed mentions of “protests” in Jordan in reports concerning the attack on a security officer at Israel’s embassy in Amman, they have not been informed of scenes in the Jordanian parliament, of repeated incidents of intimidation of Jews in Istanbul, of repeated inflammatory statements made by Turkey’s president or of anti-Israel protests as far away as Kuala Lumpur.

Neither have BBC audiences been provided with a comprehensive picture of the incitement fomented by Mahmoud Abbas, by the Palestinian Authority and by its dominant party Fatah as well as Hamas and the Waqf.

However, when Razia Iqbal had the opportunity to enhance listeners’ understanding of the scale, nature and significance of that incitement in her subsequent conversation with Fatah’s Nasser al Qudwa, she not only allowed him to promote unchallenged falsehoods but bailed out in the face of his disingenuous denials of Palestinian incitement.

Iqbal: “So does the Palestinian Authority feel vindicated by this decision? Let’s speak to Nasser Qudwa who is the media and culture commissioner of the ruling Fatah party central committee and a former Palestinian representative at the United Nations. Ah…what’s your reaction to this decision by Israel to withdraw all of this new security apparatus – the metal detectors and the cameras?”

Qudwa: “Well I think what happened represent a real achievement for the Palestinian people, especially our people in Jerusalem who fought the Israeli attempt to create new facts, to curtail and hamper the free access of worshippers to al Aqsa – the holy al Aqsa.”

That of course is a lie: apart from a two-day closure while police conducted their investigation into the July 14th terror attack and a brief ban on entry to men under 50 after violence was threatened on July 21st, worshippers were free to access the site and – despite the efforts of the Waqf – many did just that. Qudwa went on to promote additional unchallenged falsehoods.

Qudwa: “And by the way, these measures have nothing to do with security. This is a huge lie. This is part of strategies or a strategy that is aimed at turning the situation at al Haram al Sharif and al Aqsa mosque and the proof is very clear including official statements by some governmental…governmental officials who claim crazy things such as Israeli sovereignty and Israeli ownership of…of the holy place in addition of course to Israeli actions, Israeli measures…”

Iqbal: “It is perfectly – I’m sorry to interrupt you, sir – but it’s perfectly legitimate for the Israelis to want to see some security isn’t it? I mean there were police officers who were killed just by this site.”

Qudwa: “Yes that’s true. However, these were killed by three that came from Israel. No Palestinian faction group had anything to do with this. The attack…eh…eh…attack was carried [out] outside…outside the Haram al Sharif and al Aqsa mosque and it has never been the case that there was security danger or security threats within the compound, within Haram al Sharif and al Aqsa mosque.”

That lie also went unchallenged by Iqbal despite the fact that the BBC has covered violent rioting on Temple Mount in the past and al Aqsa mosque has been used to stockpile rocks used in such pre-planned disturbances. Of course, had Iqbal bothered to clarify earlier that the July 14 attack was carried out using guns brought into the al Aqsa mosque, listeners would have been better placed to judge Qudwa’s falsehoods for themselves.

Iqbal: “OK, so…”

Qudwa: “After that – let me just finish this – I might add that there was a telephone conversation between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu during which the president condemned the attack and requested the prime minister not to take any measures that might change the situation and he promised – the prime minister promised – to do precisely that.  And unfortunately he didn’t keep his word and we saw those measures that, again, have nothing to do with security but they are part of a strategy – of a scheme – Israeli scheme that’s very clear for everyone.”

Iqbal: “OK, so the minister that I’ve just spoken to, Yuval Steinitz, he accused the Palestinian Authority of inciting violence against Israel. Is he right?”

Qudwa: “Listen, this is insulting; insulting for every Palestinian. Any human being under pressure, under…under discrimination, subject to oppressive and oppressive policies and measures by foreign occupation that’s being transformed into colonialism has to react. They don’t need incitement. They don’t need any nodding from anybody. This is like accusing Palestinians of being sub-humans. This is outrageous. This is outrageous.”

Iqbal: “OK.”

Qudwa: “No reason is needed for any Palestinian to reject Israeli policies and Israeli positions, especially with regard to al Aqsa and East Jerusalem – occupied East Jerusalem.”

Iqbal: “We’ll leave it there.”

And so, in addition to not being pressed for an honest answer on the topic of Palestinian Authority and Fatah incitement, Qudwa was allowed by Iqbal to promote unchallenged mendacious propaganda about a “foreign occupation” and “colonialism” which not only did absolutely nothing to meet the BBC’s obligation to help listener understanding of this story or the broader issues at hand, but actively hindered that purpose.  

 

 

 

What did BBC News edit out of a UN rep’s statement on Jerusalem violence?

On July 24th an article titled “Jerusalem holy site tensions ‘must ease by Friday’” was published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

Readers were told that:

“The UN’s Middle East envoy has warned tensions over a holy site in Jerusalem must ease by Friday, or risk spreading “well beyond” the ancient city.

Nikolay Mladenov urged a rapid solution to the current crisis over the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. […]

…Mr Mladenov said: “It is extremely important that a solution to the current crisis be found by Friday this week. I think the dangers on the ground will escalate if we go through another cycle of Friday prayer without a resolution to this current crisis.”

He continued: “Nobody should be mistaken that these events are localised events. In fact, they may be taking place over a couple of hundred square metres, but the affect millions if not billions of people around the world.

“They have the potential to have catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the old city, well beyond Israel and Palestine, well beyond the Middle East itself.””

Mr Mladenov did indeed make those remarks, but as the transcript (to which the BBC’s report did not provide a link) shows, he also addressed the topic of Palestinian incitement: an issue which for years has been serially downplayed or ignored by the BBC – not least during this latest crisis.

“…the Palestinian leadership also has a responsibility to avoid provocative actions and statements that further aggravate an already tense environment. I am particularly concerned by some statements that have been made by some Palestinian factions that seek to fan the flames of violence and I call on all to condemn such statements and actions.”

That omission is particularly relevant in light of the fact that this article – like previous BBC coverage of the same story – describes the orchestrated rioting by Palestinians as ‘protests’.

“Palestinians protested over the move.”

 “…thousands protested in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.”

Additional noteworthy points arising from this report include its failure (in contrast to the UN representative’s statement) once again to clarify that last Friday’s attack in Halamish was an act of terrorism.

“…three Israeli civilians were stabbed to death and a fourth injured by a Palestinian who entered a home at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.”

Also notable is the appearance of yet another example of the use of PLO recommended language to describe Temple Mount.

“The site in Jerusalem’s Old City is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and holiest site in Judaism. It is also the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.” [emphasis added]

As has been the case in previous BBC reporting on this topic, the report unnecessarily qualifies information (that has not been provided to BBC audiences) concerning the smuggling of firearms into al Aqsa mosque by terrorists and erases their accomplice from the picture.

Israel says that three Israeli Arabs who carried out the 14 July shooting near the compound were able to smuggle guns inside and that metal detectors are needed to stop similar attacks. Police chased the attackers into the site afterwards and shot them dead.” [emphasis added]

Also in common with previous coverage, the article uncritically amplifies unfounded Palestinian messaging while failing to inform audiences what the existing “arrangements” are or to clarify that Israel is responsible for security at the site.

“But Palestinians strongly object to the installation of metal detectors. They see it as a move by Israel to assert more control over the sacred site and as a violation of longstanding access arrangements.”

With those omissions now standard in the BBC’s coverage of this story, it is not difficult to identify the corporation’s chosen editorial line.

Related Articles:

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part one

BBC backgrounder on Palestinian ‘metal detector’ outrage fails to tell all

BBC reporting on Jerusalem violence low on background, high on messaging 

 

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part two

As recorded in part one of this post, politically partisan terminology – that contradicts the BBC’s style guide and was first seen in BBC content in early November 2014 following the issue of a PLO ‘advisory’ document to members of the foreign media – recently reappeared in reports by the corporation’s Jerusalem bureau correspondent Yolande Knell.

Just hours after Knell told listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ on July 21st that the day’s rioting in Jerusalem and elsewhere was caused by the fact that Israel had placed metal detectors “at the entrance to the al Aqsa mosque compound“, a later edition of the same programme included a report on the same story from her colleague in Jerusalem, Tom Bateman.

The item (from 26:36 here) was introduced by presenter Rebecca Kesby – who either had no idea why the orchestrated violence took place or was deliberately promoting the false narrative that it was prompted by the age restrictions on access to Temple Mount that were in fact implemented after – and because of – the calls from Palestinian leaders for a ‘Day of Rage’.

Kesby: “…clashes in Jerusalem today over restricted access to religious sites. Palestinians are angry that many have been prevented from praying at the al Aqsa mosque. Many protested. Well let’s get the background to all of this now from the BBC’s Tom Bateman in Jerusalem.

Bateman: “Well I was down at the Old City just outside the ancient walls of Jerusalem when prayers were taking place after midday. Now this part of the Old City is where the compound is…the al Aqsa mosque is to be found. It’s the same site that Jews refer to as Temple Mount; the most revered site in Jerusalem.”

Notably, Bateman’s description of “the al Aqsa mosque” as being “the same site” as Temple Mount conforms to that 2014 PLO ‘media guidance’:

“In addition to promoting its preferred terminology “al Aqsa Mosque compound”, the PLO document from November 5th also states:

“Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, sometimes referred to as the Noble Sanctuary (“Haram al-Sharif” in Arabic), is the compound that contains Al Aqsa building itself, ablution fountains, open spaces for prayer, monuments and the Dome of the Rock building. This entire area enclosed by the walls which spans 144 dunums [sic] (almost 36 acres), forms the Mosque.” [emphasis added]”

Bateman went on: [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]

Bateman: “And normally you would see thousands of Muslims heading into the al Aqsa mosque compound. Now people were praying in their hundreds on the streets outside of the Old City walls and as we arrived there – many people had turned up – the police were blocking the road. They were preventing men under the age of 50 from going past those roadblocks. This was all after the killing last week of two Israeli police guards at the compound there. And the Israeli authorities have said that this was to do with maintaining security at the site – having the metal detectors there and the measures today to ban men under 50 – which they said were temporary. But all of this has created a real amount of anger among Palestinians, among Muslim religious leaders who called for this day of protest today.”

As we see, Bateman downgraded the ‘Day of Rage’ that was actually declared to a “day of protest” and failed to inform listeners that the attack on July 14th was an act of terrorism. He continued – giving an eye-witness account that notably erases the actions of the rioters:

Bateman: “Now before and after prayers took place there were some pretty angry confrontations. We saw stun grenades being fired. We saw people running from police officers on horseback. And shortly after that the tensions then spread to other parts of the city – to neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem – and in the last few hours the Palestinian Red Crescent has said that three people have been killed. They say there are 391 people hurt and they say nearly a hundred of those serious enough for people to have to have been taken to hospital.”

Kesby: “And as you say there, lots of complaints from the Palestinian side that the security forces have been heavy-handed. Is it your understanding that these measures in place at the moment after those deaths last week are temporary or could this be something that we see continuing?”

Bateman: “Well I think the Israeli authorities certainly were saying that the measures about preventing men under 50 from entering the site are temporary. As for the metal detectors at the site, well the police have said that weapons were smuggled into the compound before those three Arab Israelis carried out that attack last week. Now the point is that Palestinians – for whom the al Aqsa mosque is a crucially important site, not just to their faith but to their identity as well – that they fear that this may signal some kind of change; an assertion… a further assertion of Israeli control at the site there. And as international leaders appeal for calm in all this, I think that everybody realises and understands that tensions surrounding the al Aqsa mosque do have the potential to escalate.”

Notably, Bateman qualified his statement on the smuggling of firearms into al Aqsa mosque prior to the July 14th terror attack with the phrase “police have said” – despite the existence of video evidence. He then amplified Palestinian ‘fears’ without clarifying to listeners that they are baseless and without informing them that under the terms of the existing arrangements, Israel is responsible for security at the site.

As we see, although Tom Bateman has only been based in Jerusalem for a couple of months, he has already ditched the BBC Academy style guide’s instruction on the correct terminology to be used when reporting on Temple Mount and – like his more veteran colleague Yolande Knell – has compromised BBC impartiality by adopting partisan language that endorses the political agenda of one side to a complex conflict.

Related Articles:

Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount

BBC backgrounder on Palestinian ‘metal detector’ outrage fails to tell all

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part one

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part one

Just over a year ago we documented changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount.

“In late 2014, audiences began to see the employment of different terminology by some BBC journalists… […] the term ‘al Aqsa Mosque compound’ – or even just ‘al Aqsa Mosque’ – was employed to describe what the BBC previously called Haram al Sharif with increasing frequency from November 2014 onwards. […]

So how and why did that deviation from the BBC’s recommended terminology come about? As noted above, the change in language first appeared in November 2014. At the beginning of that month – on November 5th– the PLO put out a “media advisory” document (since removed from its website) informing foreign journalists of its “[c]oncern over the use of the inaccurate term “Temple Mount” to refer to Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem”. That directive is of course part and parcel of the PLO’s tactic of negation of Jewish history in Jerusalem.”

Following that post, the BBC largely returned to using the terminology specified in its own style guide. However, the employment of that PLO recommended wording has been seen once again in some of the BBC’s reporting on the recent violence in Jerusalem – including in a backgrounder produced by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell.

“Now the gate to the al Aqsa mosque compound is open once again but to reach it you have to pass through one of those metal detectors.” [emphasis added]

On July 21st an edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item (from 49:58 here) that was introduced by presenter Julian Marshall as follows: [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]

Marshall: “And to Jerusalem now where dozens of Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police amid tensions surrounding the holy site known to Muslims as the Haram al Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. Our Mid-East correspondent Yolande Knell joins us now and, Yolande, why are the Palestinians protesting?”

Knell: “Well these clashes are continuing now after Friday prayers turned into protests. There have been tensions all week after Israeli officials put in place new metal detectors at the entrance to the al Aqsa mosque compound; this site which is sacred to Jews as well – known as Temple Mount. These detectors were installed after an attack that killed two Israeli policemen last week and Israel has been insisting that these new security measures are about safety only; they don’t alter the sensitive status quo, as it’s called, at this disputed site. But Palestinians see them very much as an attempt by Israel to extend its control there and of course…ehm…Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem is something…ehm…that is…err…really extremely…err…sensitive for Palestinians and any perceived changes at the al Aqsa mosque compound – at this holy site – can be a real flash-point for violence. We’ve seen that in the last few hours. There are now reports that a third Palestinian has been killed in these clashes between…err…protesters and Israeli security forces focused on Jerusalem but also around the West Bank. There have been clashes in Qalandiya checkpoint, in Ramallah, in Hebron and in Bethlehem where I was earlier, this after political factions called for a Day of Rage.”

Marshall: “And…erm…the metal detectors are not the only point of contention. I understand that there’s an age restriction at the moment on the number [sic] of Muslim worshippers who are allowed in.”

Knell: “Well that was something that was imposed for these Friday prayers. First of all, after this…eh….attack a week ago…ah…the Israeli authorities closed the whole compound for two days: this is something very unusual. Then, it has been opened through the week but Palestinians have been refusing to enter the compound, to go through these metal detectors and instead we’ve had hundreds of people praying on the street outside. So there have been clashes with police through the week. The restriction that was placed on today was that Muslim men under 50 were barred from entering the Old City of Jerusalem. There’s been this huge Israeli police presence all around the city and busloads of Muslim worshippers have been prevented from reaching it.”

As we see, in addition to promoting partisan PLO approved terminology to describe Temple Mount, Knell completely erased from her account of the installation of metal detectors the crucial fact that the three terrorists (whom she also deletes entirely from the story) who murdered the two Israeli policemen on July 14th did so using weapons which had been smuggled into al Aqsa mosque by an accomplice.

She also failed to explain to listeners what the ‘status quo’ on Temple Mount entails and to clarify that Palestinian claims of  “changes” are baseless, while refraining from telling audiences about the copious incitement from the Waqf and official Palestinian sources that sparked the violence.

However, Knell was not the only Middle East correspondent to compromise BBC impartiality by prioritising PLO recommended language over the standard BBC terminology to describe Temple Mount in a report on July 21st – as will be seen in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount

BBC backgrounder on Palestinian ‘metal detector’ outrage fails to tell all

BBC coverage of the Jerusalem terror attack – part one: BBC News website

Version 10

Some two hours after the terror attack at Lions’ Gate in Jerusalem on the morning of July 14th in which police officers Haiel Sitawe and Kamil Shnaan were murdered and two others wounded, the BBC News website published an article titled “Israelis injured in gun attack near Jerusalem holy site”. As further details of the incident emerged the article was repeatedly amended and its tenth version now appears on the BBC News website under the title “Israeli police killed in attack near Jerusalem holy site“.

Unsurprisingly – given the BBC’s record of double standards in the language used when reporting terror attacks in different locations – in none the ten versions of that article did the writer/s use the word terror to describe the incident he or she was reporting.

From the second version onward readers found a paragraph that has been frequently seen in previous BBC reporting on terror attacks against Israelis since October 2015.

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

Once again, it is worth remembering that since the surge in terror attacks began in late 2015, the BBC has consistently failed to provide its audiences with any serious reporting on the topic of incitement and glorification of terrorism by Palestinian officials. Readers are hence unable to judge for themselves whether or not what ‘Israel says’ is accurate.

Likewise, it is noteworthy that the portrayal of terrorism as being attributable to “frustration rooted in decades of occupation” conforms to a guidance document for members of the international media put out by the PLO in November 2015.

Version 1

Even after it emerged that in this case the three terrorists were Israeli citizens from Umm al Fahm, that paragraph remained in situ.

Later versions of the report stated:

“Elsewhere, a Palestinian was shot dead in clashes with Israeli forces at a refugee camp near Bethlehem on Friday, Palestinian sources said.

Barra Hamamdeh, 21, was killed during a raid by troops on the Dheisheh camp, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.”

The BBC did not clarify to readers that those “clashes” included attacks on the soldiers.

“According to the military, during an arrest raid in the Deheishe refugee camp, outside Bethlehem, Palestinians began throwing large rocks and explosive devices at the troops.”

The report tells readers that “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack in a phone call to Mr Netanyahu” and that “the militant Palestinian Hamas movement, which runs the Gaza Strip, praised the attack as a “natural response to the Zionist ongoing crimes”. It does not mention the additional praise for the attack from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or clarify that members of Abbas’ Fatah party also put out inflammatory statements.

“A member of the Fatah leadership, Abbas Zaki, said closing the Temple Mount “is a blatant violation, which we will not accept. Everyone must resist Israel’s moves. The three young men who were killed in Jerusalem were the ones who faced the real terrorism. We are now paying the price of the fake peace from the Oslo Accords. Resistance is the choice of all Palestinians and it is what will free the homeland.””

Version 2

The sequence of events is described by the BBC as follows:

“Two Israeli policemen have been killed and a third wounded in a shooting attack near a sacred site in Jerusalem.

They were shot by three Israeli Arabs close to the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary).

Police chased the attackers into the site and shot them dead.”

And:

“Police say the gunmen opened fire as they made their way from the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif towards Lions’ Gate, an opening in the Old City walls about 100ft (30 metres) away.

The attackers were then pursued back to the compound, where they were killed.”

That description does not adequately clarify that the terrorists had been on Temple Mount for an unknown period of time before the attack – and had even posted photographs of themselves there on social media – or that, as the Times of Israel reports, they deliberately returned to that site after the attack.

“According to police, the attackers came from the Temple Mount. They walked toward the Lions Gate exit, then opened fire at the officers.

After the shooting, the terrorists fled back toward the Temple Mount and other officers gave chase. Police then opened fire, shooting the terrorists dead inside the complex.”

Version 3

This report does however explain that the closure of the site after the incident was necessary to allow the police to carry out their investigation.

“In the wake of the incident, police sealed off the site to search it for weapons. It is the first time in decades that the compound, which contains the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, has been closed for Muslim Friday prayers, which normally draws thousands of worshippers.

The site is administered by an Islamic authority (Waqf), though Israel is in charge of security there. Police are investigating how the attackers managed to smuggle in a handgun, sub-machine gun and knife.”

The fact that the BBC clearly understands why the unusual step of closing Temple Mount had to be taken following the terror attack is particularly noteworthy given two radio reports on the same subject broadcast later in the day that will be discussed in part two of this post.

No follow-up to the BBC’s ‘peace process in peril’ stories

Last week the BBC produced two items in which audiences were told that the start of work on preparations for laying infrastructure for a new community in Judea & Samaria was deliberately timed to hamper talks concerning negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.  

In an audio report broadcast on BBC Radio 4 listeners heard presenter Ritula Shah say:

“Well today’s announcement comes as President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner is due in Israel tomorrow to take part in talks on restarting the peace process. Nabil Abu Rudeinah is a spokesman for the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. He called today’s move a grave escalation and questioned the timing.”

They then heard from Abu Rudeinah:

“The resumption of these activities is a clear message to the American administration and to the efforts of President Trump. The American envoy is already in the area. Tomorrow President Abbas will be receiving him. This is an obstacle to the efforts of President Trump to resume the peace process.”

Later on in the same item listeners were told that “the biggest hurdle to peace is the settlement activity” and that the timing of the construction work was a “deliberate” attempt “to foil efforts by the American administration to revive negotiations”. 

In a written report published on the BBC News website on the same day, audiences found the following:

“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.”

With the mission of the US envoy allegedly so gravely imperiled by Israeli actions, one might have expected the BBC to produce some follow-up reporting on his visit to Ramallah. However, that has not been the case and so BBC audiences remain unaware of a different “hurdle to peace”.

The Times of Israel (and others) reported that:

“A meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and senior White House official Jared Kushner reportedly left the Palestinian leader fuming and refusing to agree to watered-down demands that Ramallah cut off payments for some convicted terrorists and their families.

According to Palestinian sources quoted in Hebrew and Arabic media Friday, Abbas and his advisers accused the US of taking Israel’s side and refused a demand to stop paying salaries to several hundred prisoners serving time for the most serious crimes. […]

Kushner began his meeting with Abbas by stating all the Israeli concerns, including stopping the payments, according to Hebrew media reports, angering Abbas.

“The American delegation accepted Israel’s position with regard to paying salaries to prisoners,” a Palestinian source told Ynet, “and described it as a means of inciting terror, demanding it be stopped.” […]

On Thursday Abbas defended payments to Palestinian prisoners, including convicted terrorists, as a “social responsibility,” and said Israel was using the issue as a pretext to avoid peace talks.”

Ynet added:

“Another issue that was dominant in the conversation itself was incitement to violence. The Palestinians expressed great disappointment that these two issues were the main things the Americans talked at the expense of the two-state solution.”

While the topic of ‘settlements‘ and their alleged negative affect on the possibility of reaching a two-state solution is one that the BBC has covered ad infinitum, the corporation has yet to provide its funding public with any serious reporting on the issues of PA/PLO payment of salaries to convicted terrorists and incitement to violence and glorification of terrorism by Palestinian officials.  

If, as it seems, those issues are now on the agenda of US officials attempting to restart negotiations then obviously a media organisation truly committed to providing its audiences with the background information that would enable understanding of the topic would not persist in denying its funding public such crucial context. 

Related Articles:

BBC News silence on PA terror rewards continues

A new backgrounder on a topic disregarded by the BBC

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