As we saw in two previous posts, the BBC’s domestic radio audiences were repeatedly – but inaccurately – told that a statement made last week by the US Secretary of State changed a “four-decades-old position”.
As CAMERA explained:
“Pompeo declared that his administration was reversing the position taken in the last days of the Obama administration. On December 28, 2016, then-Secretary of State John Kerry declared his re-adoption of the position taken by the Carter administration 38 years earlier of Israeli settlements as “inconsistent with international law.” […]
…this was not a “major reversal” of policy: Pompeo was not announcing a new campaign to promote settlement building. He was presenting the administration’s legal opinion.
Nor was the 1978 legal opinion of Herbert J. Hansell, the State Department’s legal advisor at the time, “longstanding.” It was reversed by President Reagan less than three years after it was adopted by the Carter administration.
Pompeo was merely reversing a 3-year-old position by the Obama administration that re-adopted the old Hansell opinion. Ignoring nearly 38 years of history in between, the journalists falsely suggest that the Hansell opinion was held unwaveringly throughout four decades.”
Articles which appeared on the BBC News website demonstrated that the BBC is fully aware of that history but nevertheless, listeners to BBC Radio 4 were misled with inaccurate information. Unfortunately for the BBC’s international radio audiences, the same erroneous claim was also promoted on BBC World Service radio.
On November 19th three consecutive editions of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday’ – presented by Lawrence Pollard – promoted that ‘forty years’ myth. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]
Edition 1 – from 06:09 here:
Pollard: “Now let’s talk […] about another American policy switch in the Middle East. For forty years Israeli settlements in the occupied territories which were captured in the war of 1967 have been seen as illegal by most world opinion. Now, after an announcement from Mike Pompeo the US Secretary of State, the US no longer regards them as – the phrase is – inconsistent with international law.”
Edition 2 – from 06:23 here:
Pollard: “We’re going to talk about another major U-turn in American policy in the Middle East. The Trump administration says they don’t consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be a violation of international law. I should say any more because they have done for the past forty years.”
Edition 3 – from 00:46 here:
Pollard: “Palestinians have expressed outrage after the United States said it no longer believes that Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories are illegal. The announcement was made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It reverses forty years of US policy and puts Washington at odds with…ahm…the UN and particularly the EU as well.”
Iqbal: “The Trump administration has abandoned its four decades old position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Its position now is that the settlements do not violate international law.”
According to their webpages, those editions of ‘Newsday’ will remain online “for over a year” and the ‘Newshour’ broadcast will be available for a further 24 days. Clearly those materially misleading statements regarding “forty years of US policy” need to be urgently corrected, as has already been done at some other British media outlets.