Over the last nine months, the BBC News website’s coverage of the subject of the currently ongoing negotiations between Israel and the PLO under American tutelage has for the most part ignored the very significant issues of the rejectionist factions on the Palestinian political spectrum and the question of the legitimacy and workability of any deal reached and signed by a Palestinian president whose term of office expired years ago.
Obviously, understanding of such issues is crucial for BBC audiences if they are to be able to fully comprehend events and take part in informed discussion on the topic – as the BBC pledges they will be able to do in its Public Purposes outline.
Given that, it was especially good to see an effort finally being made to repair previous omission of coverage of those vital topics in an article by Rushdi Abualouf of the BBC’s Gaza office which appeared in the Features & Analysis section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on March 17th under the title “Gaza’s Hamas government critical as Abbas meets Obama“.
The article could have been even further enhanced had it informed readers that “the war that followed Israel’s creation in 1948” was the result of the decision by five Arab countries, along with assorted irregulars and foreign volunteers, to attack the nascent Jewish state. It could also have been considerably more frank and informative with regard to what Abualouf euphemistically terms as Hamas having “ousted forces loyal to Mr Abbas in Gaza and set up a rival government”. And of course the description of the PFLP as one of the Palestinian political scene’s “leftist movements” clearly breaches BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy by concealing that organisation’s terror designation by the US, Canada, Israel and the European Union.
But all in all, Abualouf makes a decent effort to provide some of the background information of which BBC audiences have been deprived for too long. Let’s hope this is not just one long-awaited swallow.