Superficial BBC report on Swedish decision to recognise Palestinian state

On October 3rd the BBC News website published an article titled “Sweden to recognise Palestinian state“. The report, which appeared on both the website’s Europe and Middle East pages, can be divided into two parts with the first relating to the announcement itself made by the new Prime Minister Stefan Löfven during his inaugural address in the Swedish parliament.Sweden art

“Sweden is to “recognise the state of Palestine”, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has said, the first long-term EU member country to do so.

“The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution,” he said during his inaugural address in parliament.

It should be “negotiated in accordance with international law”, he said. […]

“A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognise the state of Palestine,” Mr Lofven said on Friday, without giving a timeline for the recognition.”

The second part of the article supposedly provides background information on the topic to BBC audiences but fails to point out the inbuilt contradictions in Mr Löfven’s statement.

“In 1988, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat unilaterally declared a Palestinian state within the pre-June 1967 lines.

This won recognition from about 100 countries, mainly Arab, Communist and non-aligned states – several of them in Latin America.

The 1993 Oslo Accord between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel led to mutual recognition. However, two decades of on-off peace talks have since failed to produce a permanent settlement.”

The Algiers Declaration of 1988 actually refrained from defining the unilaterally declared state’s borders and made no mention of “pre-June 1967 lines” as claimed by the BBC.

“The Palestine National Council, in the name of God, and in the name of the Palestinian Arab people, hereby proclaims the establishment of the State of Palestine on our Palestinian territory with its capital Jerusalem (Al-Quds Ash-Sharif).”

Notably, the BBC (like the new Swedish prime minister, apparently) side-steps the very relevant issue of Hamas’ being a party to the current Palestinian Unity Government despite its refusal to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel and the fact that it is not a member of the body which signed the Oslo Accords – the PLO.

Additionally, this BBC report notably fails to remind audiences that during the last round of negotiations the PLO continued to refuse to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. That omission will not come as a surprise to regular BBC watchers: throughout the entire nine-month period of negotiations in 2013/14, the corporation refrained from providing its audiences with the comprehensive background information necessary for them to understand the significance of that Palestinian refusal. Notably too, one of the articles offered to readers in the “related stories” section at the side and bottom of this report is Yolande Knell’s inaccurate article from February 2014 titled “Row over demand for Palestinians to recognise Israel as ‘Jewish state'” in which the issue was misrepresented (in line with PA campaigning at the time) as a new demand on the part of Israel designed to scupper the talks.

If BBC audiences are to reach informed opinions regarding the statement made by the new Swedish prime minister, they are obviously in need of vital context which the BBC has to date failed to provide. 


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