The facts behind the BBC myth of “Palestinian political prisoners”

According to the narrative frequently and habitually promoted by the BBC in relation to the Middle East peace process, the main stumbling block to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is the subject of building in towns and villages in Judea & Samaria. Typically, the BBC does not inform its audiences that the PA has quite a list of preconditions for returning to peace talks – one of which is the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, with particular focus on those imprisoned before the Oslo Accords were signed.  

In the past few months we have seen numerous BBC reports focusing on Palestinian prisoners, most of which severely downplayed or even completely ignored the crimes committed by their subjects and included quotes from Palestinian officials and prisoner-focused NGOs such as Addameer. One BBC report in particular – from April 2nd 2013 – advanced the erroneous notion that the jailed Palestinians are “political prisoners” – a theme which is promoted by the Palestinian Authority, along with anti-Israel campaigners both in the region and abroad, and one which is being increasingly adopted by the mainstream media as a whole. 

“The issue of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails is an emotive one for Palestinians. Inmates are generally highly regarded despite the reasons for their detention.” [emphasis added]

Now, for the first time, a translation into English of the entire list of 118 pre-Oslo prisoners – and details of their crimes – is being made available to the public. This project – carried out by CAMERA, together with Presspectiva, CiF Watch and BBC Watch – puts into the public domain information which shows that these prisoners were convicted of crimes which for the most part were of a terrorist or criminally violent nature (and in no small amount of cases were directed against Palestinians) and that in no way do they meet the definition of “political prisoners”. 

Readers can view the translation here . To enlarge the table, click on the link immediately above.

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