The BBC’s selective interest in PA logos

A change of stationery by the Palestinian Authority prompted an article in the Middle East section of the BBC News website on January 6th 2013. 

PA documents

Contrary to the implication in the BBC article, other media outlets report that the changes will apply only to official letterheads:

“Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide, suggested that there would be no change in passports or other documents Palestinians need for movement through Israeli crossings.”

Despite this new-found interest in Palestinian logos, the BBC has not yet seen fit to report that the body known until November 29th 2012 as the ‘Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations’ – and since upgraded to non-member observer state status – uses a very interesting one on its official documents and website. 

Yes, the official emblem for the body representing the Palestinian Authority at the UN wipes a UN member state off the map. 

The decision to change the PA’s title to ‘State of Palestine’ is, of course, in keeping with statements made by at least one PA official before the recent UN vote regarding an apparently deliberate intent to end of the Oslo Accords which established the PA. 

“The Oslo Accords between the PLO and Israel will cease to exist the day after the UN votes in favor of upgrading the status of a Palestinian state to non-member, Abbas Zaki, member of the Fatah Central Committee, was quoted Thursday as saying. […]

He said that after the UN votes in favor of the PA request, “the case of the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority will be closed. “

Some commentators do indeed consider that the PA’s unilateral move at the UN contravenes Article XXXI, section 7 of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

“Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”

The BBC shows no interest in the repercussions of such unilateral moves by the PA on the prospects of the peace process. However, it does manage to squeeze into this short piece yet another context-free reference to Israel’s withholding of tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA, but without explaining that the money was paid to the Israel Electric Corporation, with which the PA had run up a massive debt in excess of 700 million shekels. 

“Israel opposed the UN status change, and in response halted the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority.”

The BBC adds:

“The PA, headed by Mr Abbas, governs the West Bank. It is heavily dependent on tax revenues that Israel collects on its behalf.”

Were the BBC serious about reporting the realities of the economic situation within PA-controlled areas, it would of course question how the PA seems to have money for new stationery, for a general electricity bill amnesty or for $1 million celebrations of the 48th anniversary of the first Fatah armed attack against Israel, but yet cannot pay its employees on time. 

With international donors footing the PA’s bills to a considerable extent (including British and other EU taxpayers currently experiencing domestic austerity), BBC audiences might actually be interested in reading some serious investigative reporting about the PA’s financial priorities rather than dumbed-down articles which contribute nothing to audiences’ understanding of the situation in the Middle East.  


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