BBC Jerusalem correspondent’s ‘analysis’ meets reality

The BBC continues to promote a long-standing mantra on Israeli politics.

Visitors to the BBC News website have in recent days seen two reports relating to domestic Israeli politics.

On November 18th an article originally headlined “Netanyahu faces key meeting amid Israel early polls call” and later re-titledNetanyahu warns of danger of early Israel election” appeared on the website’s ‘Middle East’ page. On November 19th a report titled “Israel’s Netanyahu survives early poll threat” was published on the same page.

Both those reports told BBC audiences that:

“All Israeli governments are coalitions because of Israel’s system of proportional representation, meaning no single party can govern alone.”

That statement is of course misleading. The electoral system in Israel is indeed based on nation-wide proportional representation and all Israeli governments to date have been coalitions – not least due to the relatively low qualifying threshold.

However, were a list to gain sufficient votes to secure a majority of seats in the Knesset, that electoral system would not preclude it from ‘governing alone’ as the BBC suggests is inherent.

BBC Watch has written to the BBC News website to request an amendment to that inaccurate and misleading statement.

Despite the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s rather lacklustre record of reporting on Israeli politics, the second article included ‘analysis’ from Yolande Knell titled “A push to the right?” in which she began by telling readers that:

“Naftali Bennett’s surprise decision to remain in the coalition is likely to mean a push for more legislation and action in the coming weeks to prove the government’s right-wing credentials.”

The extent to which a coalition government with a mere one-seat majority is able “push for more legislation” in order to “prove” its “right-wing credentials” was evident just hours after Knell had penned those words.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition on Monday lost its first several Knesset plenum votes since it was reduced to just 61 members, raising doubts over whether it could survive for long, after early elections were narrowly averted earlier in the day, and causing mayhem in parliament.

The coalition, which was reduced to the slimmest majority possible in the 120-seat parliament last week when Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned and left the government with his five-seat Yisrael Beytenu party — lost four motions of no confidence after the coalition boycotted them, according to the Knesset spokesperson. […]

The motions of no confidence were largely symbolic and did not topple the government, since such motions require at least 61 backers to do so.

The coalition boycotted all four votes in protest, after opposition members refused to agree with coalition colleagues to offset absences on a one-to-one basis, as is customary. That refusal meant the coalition did not have the majority to win the vote, and all its MKs subsequently left. […]

Later, the coalition lost a vote on a land ownership bill that had been formulated jointly by coalition and opposition lawmakers, and subsequently called off all further votes scheduled for Monday evening.”

And yet the BBC continues to promote its long-standing mantra of a ‘lurch to the right’ to audiences for the most part less than familiar with Israeli politics.


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