BBC still promoting selective messaging on end of Israel-PLO talks

The BBC continued to apply fixative to its decidedly abstract portrait of the circumstances of the end of negotiations between Israel and the PLO in a May 14th report titled “Middle East peace talks: Kerry meets Abbas in London” which appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website.Kerry Abbas talks art

Repeating the framing and messaging in previous BBC reports on the topic, this one informs readers that:

“Peace talks broke down last month after Israel was angered by a unity deal between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.”


“Israel ended the US-brokered peace talks, which only resumed last July after a three-year hiatus, on 23 April after demanding the annulment of Fatah’s reconciliation agreement with Hamas.”

So once again we see that the BBC’s dumbed-down take-away message to its audiences is that the negotiations (scheduled to conclude less than a week later in any event, although the BBC now refrains from reminding readers of that fact) were ended by Israel, with no mention of any other contributing factors or context. That apparently well entrenched editorial policy very clearly points audiences towards the adoption of a view of the issue according to which Israel is the rejectionist which spoiled the peace party for everyone else.

That messaging is underlined by the BBC’s presentation (by means of selected quotes scattered throughout the article) of who is – and who is not – pro-negotiations and, by extension, pro-peace. One the one hand, readers are presented with the BBC’s pro-negotiations camp which includes John Kerry, Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres.

“The door remains open to the peace process. The secretary continues to believe that,” a senior state department official said before Mr Kerry left Washington.”

” “He [Mahmoud Abbas] also expressed his readiness to resume peace talks with Israel and his hope that this could be achieved rapidly,” the spokesman said.”

“On Tuesday, Israeli President Shimon Peres said he hoped for a return to talks with the Palestinians, saying they were “paused but they are not finished”. “

In the other corner the BBC places two senior members of the Israeli government.

“But Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he expected the “impasse” to continue and accused Mr Abbas of having “no interest” in reaching a deal.”

“But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the BBC that Mr Abbas could “have peace with Israel or a pact with Hamas – he can’t have both”.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu said Mr Abbas had to choose between peace talks and a unity deal with Hamas”

Notably, the writer of this report fails to inform readers that the next sentence of the above highlighted quote from the April 24th BBC interview with Binyamin Netanyahu was:

“I hope that he decides to abandon this pact with the terrorist Hamas and come back to the peace with Israel.”

Also in this report the BBC yet again presents a superficial and airbrushed picture of the Hamas-Fatah unity deal.

“Fatah, which is led by Mr Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, which governs Gaza, said they planned to form a unity government. […]

Mr Abbas said the new government would be bound by his plan for peace. […]

A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Abbas outlined his plans for a new, technocratic Palestinian government, committed to the principles of the “Quartet” of Middle East negotiators “including non-violence and the recognition of Israel”.”

Since it first began reporting the Hamas-Fatah unity deal on April 23rd, the BBC has consistently avoided informing audiences of anything which contradicts the public relations messages put out by Mahmoud Abbas. It did not, for example, report on the press conference held on May 3rd by Hamas’ deputy leader in which he specifically rejected the claims made by Abbas – and dutifully amplified by the BBC – in this article.

“Hamas will never recognise Israel and will not accept the conditions laid out by the Middle East peacemaking Quartet, according to the Islamist movement’s deputy leader.

Speaking late on Saturday, Mussa Abu Marzuq said Hamas, which recently signed a reconciliation deal with the Western-backed Palestinian leadership in the occupied West Bank, would never agree to recognise Israel. […]

Recognising Israel is one of the key conditions laid out in the 2003 peacemaking roadmap of the Middle East Quartet, which brings together the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia.

The other two key demands are a renunciation of violence and acceptance of all prior agreements with Israel.

Abbas, who is to head the new government, to consist of political independents, has insisted it will abide by all three principles.

But Abu Marzuq said Hamas would never accept the Quartet’s conditions.

“Hamas rejects the Quartet’s conditions because it denies some of our people’s rights,” he told reporters.”

Neither did the BBC report on the message given to Hamas supporters in Ramallah by Khaled Masha’al just a week after the Hamas-Fatah deal was announced.

“Addressing Hamas supporters in Ramallah by phone, Mashaal said, “Our path is the resistance and jihad is our choice. This is the original Palestinian strategy. We want to build our homeland and liberate our land and holy sites, bring back the refugees and release the prisoners. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, inside and outside, our choice is resistance and the rifle is our way. There is no history or future without jihad and resistance.” “

The blatantly political framing of this issue by the BBC in this report and prior ones of course actively hinders BBC audiences from forming a fully informed and comprehensive view of the topic.

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Background to the BBC’s inaccurate framing of the end of Middle East talks

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