Impartiality fail as BBC promotes FOEME objections to Red-Dead Sea project

On December 9th an article titled “Mid-East governments sign Red Sea-to-Dead Sea water deal” appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website. 

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Both the article itself and one of the recommended ‘related articles’ appearing as a link highlight the objections of ‘Friends of the Earth Middle East’ to this project.

“But critics fear the plan’s impact on the Dead Sea’s fragile ecosystem.”

“Environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth Middle East has called for an environmental study of how the brine from the desalination plant should be treated before the project begins in earnest, arguing it is unclear how brine from the Red Sea water will affect the Dead Sea’s ecosystem.” SONY DSC

The BBC report does not make it sufficiently clear to readers that considerable research has already been carried out, including a study of alternative options and a comprehensive environmental report. Neither does it sufficiently clarify the fact that the agreed project is in fact a pilot project involving relatively small volumes of water to be piped to the Dead Sea, which it has been established will not have a detrimental environmental impact, but which will enable further study of environmental factors.

If the BBC is going to highlight the issue of the project’s environmental aspects and amplify the concerns of FOEME, it should – in the interests of complying with its own editorial guidelines on impartiality – also provide audiences with details of additional professional points of view on that issue.

Meanwhile, BBC Watch looks forward to the long overdue removal of Martin Asser’s egregious “Obstacles to Peace:Water” article (see here and here) from the BBC News website in light of the innovations this joint Israeli/Jordanian/PA project will bring. 

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