The June 25th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World Tonight’ – presented by Ritula Shah – included an item (from 18:39 here) concerning the economic workshop in Bahrain which commenced that day.
Shah began by claiming that: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]
Shah: “President Trump calls it ‘the deal of the century’. The official title is ‘Peace to Prosperity – the economic plan: a new vision for the Palestinian people’. It’s the basis of a discussion with Arab investors that’s underway in Bahrain. The White House wants donor countries to contribute around $50 billion for a newly created development fund. Just over half the money would go to projects in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip – areas the Palestinians want for an independent state – and the rest would go to Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who’s leading the US delegation, admitted that the plan doesn’t address the need for a political settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But, he said, agreeing on an economic pathway was a necessary precondition for peace. He also didn’t seem to realise that it was his father-in-law who talked about ‘the deal of the century’.”
Listeners then heard a recording of Mr Kushner speaking at the conference.
Kushner: “Some people have mockingly called this effort ‘the deal of the century’ but at its core it is not just about making a deal. In fact this effort is better referred to as the opportunity of the century, if leadership has the courage to pursue it. This is about creating an opportunity for the Palestinian people. This is about creating opportunity for the people throughout the Middle East.”
Shah’s claim that Trump “calls it ‘the deal of the century’” and her snide dig that Kushner “didn’t seem to realise” that is unsupported. AFP journalist Joe Dyke looked into that claim, which has also been promoted in previous BBC content.
“It has become common in recent months for media reports to say that US President Donald Trump calls his proposed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan the “deal of the century,” a phrase seen as indicative of Trump’s real estate style of diplomacy.
Major international media, including AFP, have said the name was given by the president, but in fact it appears there is no record of him using it in public.
It seems the first major usage of the phrase originates from a 2017 meeting between Trump and Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Since then it has been used widely in the Arab world and by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, particularly by those opposed to the deal. […]
On April 3, 2017, Trump met President Sissi. In Arabic-language remarks, the Egyptian leader told Trump he was fully supportive of Trump’s attempts to find a “solution to the issue of the century with the deal of the century.” […]
After the meeting the term deal of the century began to be discussed in Arabic media and online.”
In other words, not only does the BBC appear to have failed to fact check Shah’s claim that the phrase ‘the deal of the century’ was coined by Mr Trump, it has adopted the language used by Palestinian officials who opposed the US initiative before it was even made public.
Ritula Shah went on:
Shah: “Well Palestinian leaders have rejected the plan and won’t be in Bahrain. Israeli officials haven’t been invited because of the Palestinians’ absence. Several Arab countries agreed to attend but, out of solidarity with the Palestinians, have sent more junior ministers.”
While that may be the case as far as Egypt and Morocco are concerned, Shah’s portrayal obviously does not give listeners an accurate portrayal of the event because it fails to clarify that the finance ministers of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain participated in the workshop along with foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the head of the IMF, the president of the World Bank and ten Palestinian businessmen.
Shah: “But the White House says they’re interested instead in appealing to ordinary Palestinians keen to improve their parlous economic prospects. Our Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell has been speaking to some of them.”
Listeners then heard the same report from Knell that was aired on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ on the same day – a report that was similar to both a televised report billed Palestinian poverty which she produced for BBC One’s ‘News at Ten’ on June 20th and an article she wrote which was published on the BBC News website on June 25th under the headline “Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ falls flat in West Bank”.
The remainder of the item will be discussed in part two of this post.