What have BBC TV audiences been told about the Hamas-Fatah deal?

In addition to the two written reports on the subject of the latest Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal produced by the BBC on April 23rd and 24th which were previously discussed here, three filmed reports shown on BBC television news programmes were also made available on the BBC News website.

A report titled “Hamas and Fatah unveil Palestinian reconciliation deal” by Yolande Knell appeared on April 23rd.Hamas Fatah deal filmed 1

Of course the deal has not actually been ‘unveiled’: official details of its terms have not so far been publicised in full and so Knell has nothing to report to audiences regarding its actual substance. Nevertheless, she makes no attempt to inform viewers of critical issues such as whether or not the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority laid down the condition that Hamas must agree to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist before signing the deal.

Knell informs viewers that:

“Ordinary Palestinians have long hoped for an end to the damaging split between their political leaders…”

She fails however to clarify what that ‘hope’ means in terms of support for terrorism and the intransigent Hamas stance. Knell tells viewers that “reconciliation deals have been made before”, but that “they weren’t implemented” without explaining why not.

As was the case in the two written articles on the same topic, the fact that Knell refrains from adequately clarifying the full implications of such a deal on negotiations – current or future – between Israel and the PLO means that audiences are unable to put her remark below concerning Israel’s approach to the unity deal into correct perspective.

“But Israel’s reaction is much more negative.”

Knell ends her report by stating:

“But after the failure of their previous efforts to end their split and with pressure from Israel and Western donors that see Hamas as a terrorist group, there’s caution and there’s scepticism.”

In other words, Knell is suggesting to audiences that if the Hamas-Fatah nirvana fails to get off the ground, that will at least be in part attributable to Israel and other Western countries’ classification of Hamas’ use of politically and religiously motivated violence against civilians – which the BBC appears to find debatable.

Another filmed report from April 23rd is titled “Jeremy Bowen on Hamas-Fatah reconciliation” and it is a studio interview with the BBC’s Middle East Editor who arrived in the region specially for the occasion.Hamas Fatah deal filmed 2

“Yeah, I think the timing of this has to be seen in the context of the Americans’ latest attempt to try and make peace between the two sides here, which has been going on for nine months – it was meant to come to fruition – the deadline was in fact this coming Monday. Now that has run into the sand – it’s not going anywhere – and I think what the Palestinians on the Fatah side – that’s roughly speaking the pro-Western side – are saying is that they want to try and build their strength from within; they’re not getting what they want from the Israelis, therefore try to change the balance of power in their favour by getting national unity. Now it has to be said, they’ve tried to mend this rift with Hamas before and it hasn’t worked – it has failed. This may well fail again. The Israelis are saying this is a big crisis; that how can they negotiate with people who are allied with Hamas who are an organization who want the end of the Jewish state. Now I think what all this means in a broader sense is there has now been – what? – more than twenty years of negotiations, often brokered by the Americans or by other outsiders, between the Palestinians and the Israelis and so far none of them have worked. Both sides have not been able or willing to make the necessary…ah…sacrifices and deals. So what has happened in the past is that when a peace initiative hasn’t worked, there’s sometimes been a period of violence after it and of course people are wondering if that is the risk now.”

Seeing as the BBC refrained from reporting on the visit by a senior member of Fatah’s central committee to Tehran at the end of January, it is perhaps not surprising to see that Jeremy Bowen thinks he can get away with describing Fatah as “the pro-Western side”, although why he finds it necessary to do so is a mystery.

Again, Bowen provides no actual information on the terms of the deal – because very few are known – but neither does he use the opportunity to properly explain the issues at hand to audiences.

But what is obviously most egregious about Bowen’s ‘analysis’ is the neutering of Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians and his presentation of “a period of violence” after failed negotiations as though it were something which fell out of the sky along with rain and snow. Of course as we have noted here in the past, the BBC has consistently refrained from informing its audiences that terrorism has already more than doubled since the current round of talks began. Of 916 attacks with firebombs in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem between August 2013 and the end of March 2014, the BBC reported one incident alone and even then avoided all use of the word ‘terror’.  

Clearly Bowen’s approach is inconsistent with the BBC’s obligation to “enhance UK audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues”.Hamas FAtah deal filmed 3

The third filmed report from April 23rd is an interview with that old BBC favourite Mustafa Barghouti titled “Hamas-Fatah deal ‘chance for peace’“. Once again, Barghouti is permitted to use BBC airtime to promote the defamatory myth of ‘apartheid’ entirely unhindered and with no attempt made – at least in the online version of the interview – to explain to audiences what Barghouti actually stands for, as BBC editorial guidelines demand.

“I think we managed to put this deal together because all the parties have realized that the whole Palestinian cause is at high risk because of the imbalance of power between us and Israel. It has become clear that Israel has no intention of achieving peace with Palestinians. Mr Netanyahu prefers settlements to peace, prefers to keep occupation and apartheid system.”

Barghouti then goes on to wax lyrical about how this deal will help Palestinians regain their democracy. With the BBC rarely if ever reporting on issues of freedom of speech, freedom of association or the rights of women, gays and religious minorities in either the PA or Hamas controlled areas, viewers will have little if any ability to judge Barghouti’s words concerning ‘democracy’ for themselves.

As we see, despite the volume of written and filmed coverage the BBC has devoted to the topic of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, its audiences are actually very little the wiser as to what this latest move on the part of the PA means as far as the future of the region is concerned.    

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