Guardian omits vital facts and context in story on delayed Palestinian mail

Once again, the Guardian has denied readers the full story, omitting crucial details, failing to provide relevant context and erasing nuance - all of which helps advance the desired Guardian narrative, one which invariably imputes maximum Israeli malevolence to any dispute between the two parties.

h/t Tomer Ilan 

On August 14th AFP published a report about delayed mail addressed to residents of the Palestinian Authority, a report picked up by numerous media outlets, including the Guardian.

Here’s the headline and the relevant passages from the Guardian report by their Jerusalem correspondent, Oliver Holmes.

Israeli occupying forces [sic] have allowed 10 tonnes of mail to be handed to Palestinian postal workers after preventing the letters and parcels from entering the West Bank for up to eight years.

A 2016 agreement that allowed Palestinians living under occupation to receive mail directly from Jordan – rather than through Israel – for the first time was never fully enacted. Israel let this shipment through in a one-time deal, officials said.

 

The Palestinian telecommunications minister, Allam Mousa, said Israel was still delaying the implementation of the 2016] agreement and did not allow the movement of mail directly through Jordan, and by doing so was not complying with international resolutions.

Cogat, the defence ministry unit coordinating Israeli government activity in the West Bank, said the release was part of confidence-building measures.

The story fails to provide vital context, such as the fact that the 1995 interim agreement between Israel and the PLO includes clauses relating to postal services. 

The interim agreement includes the stipulation that the PA is entitled to use Jordanian mail services, subject to a commercial agreement allowing international mail to be transferred to the PA via Jordan. That agreement has not yet been signed. Therefore, in the absence of such an agreement, international mail must go through the Israeli Postal Service before being sent to the PA. 

Most international mail sent to Palestinians via this arrangement gets to the Palestinians without a problem. However, Arab countries boycott Israel, and won’t send postal items to the PA via the Israel Postal Service, thus preventing Palestinians from receiving mail sent from these countries.

In 2009 steps were taken to try to solve this, by the creation of a joint committee aimed at finding a solution which would allow the Palestinian Authority to use Jordanian postal services, fulfilling the terms of the 1995 agreement

Talks dragged on for years, but in September 2016 a memorandum of understanding (in lieu of a final agreement) was signed that would eventually result in all international mail, including from Arab countries, being sent to the PA via Jordan. 

As Ha’aretz reported, negotiations for a final agreement continue and are at advanced stages.  However, as a gesture of good-will, COGAT last week allowed a one-time transfer of more than ten tons of mail that had been held in Jordan.

So, to recap, the Guardian – and other British media outlets which reported on the mail row – mislead in several ways:

  • They failed to note that the 1995 Interim Agreement between Israel and the PLO includes clauses relating to postal services, requiring a formal commercial agreement between the parties which has not yet been reached.
  • They omitted relevant context about the Arab boycott of the Israeli Postal Service. If not for the boycott, mail from Arab countries sent to the PA would be delivered via the Israeli Postal Service just like mail sent from the rest of the world.
  • The article also falsely suggests that Israel is not implementing a deal between COGAT and the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs when, in fact, a final deal hasn’t yet been signed.  
  • The article also erroneously leaves the impression that the mail was in Israel for the past ten years, rather than in Jordan.

Once again, the Guardian has denied readers the full story, omitting crucial details, failing to provide relevant context and erasing nuance – all of which helps advance the desired Guardian narrative, one which invariably imputes maximum Israeli malevolence to any dispute between the two parties.

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