BBC News website kicks off 2020 election reporting

Details omitted from BBC portrayal of Israeli politics.

A report now headlined “Israel will hold unprecedented third election in a year” which was published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on December 11th opens:

“Israel will hold an unprecedented third general election in less than a year after politicians again failed to form a majority coalition in parliament.

Members of the Knesset voted to set the election date for 2 March hours after a midnight (22:00 GMT) deadline passed.”

Explaining the background to the new election, the report tells readers that:

“With neither party [Likud or Blue and White] able to build a coalition that could command a 61-seat majority, President Reuven Rivlin called on them to form a national unity government.

But the negotiations broke down over who would serve as prime minister first; Mr Netanyahu’s insistence that ultra-Orthodox parties allied to him be included; and Mr Gantz’s refusal to serve under a prime minister facing criminal charges.” [emphasis added]

While such statements have been made in the past by the Blue and White party, as Gil Hoffman reported at the Jerusalem Post, it apparently compromised on that stance in the latest round of (unsuccessful) negotiations.

“This time, an agreement between the Likud and Blue and White on a unity government was written in great detail. Lawyers from both sides hammered out arrangements to facilitate a coalition to the smallest details.

They worked hardest on the most complicated issue: how to enable Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to leave his post – as soon as possible for Blue and White, and as respectfully as possible for him. […]

Netanyahu was to leave office on May 4, 2020, right after Independence Day celebrations. Both Netanyahu and Gantz would have been sworn in as prime minister this month – Netanyahu as prime minister and Gantz as the prime minister-designate in a rotation.

A law would have been passed to create Gantz’s post and ensure that Netanyahu left his on time. The bill would have even prevented the Knesset’s dispersal before the end of the term, ensuring long-awaited stability.”

The BBC’s report states:

“Mr Netanyahu has not yet announced whether he will ask parliament to grant him immunity from prosecution. But most analysts believe he is hoping to improve his chances of obtaining immunity with a third election.”

It does not however inform readers that the time limit for such a request is January 2nd 2020 or that there are two stages to that procedure: a vote in the House Committee and – if immunity is granted by the committee – a second vote in the Knesset.

Although the BBC’s report was updated the day after publication, amendments did not include Netanyahu’s announcement that he will step down from his ministerial posts on January 1st and readers were not informed of the pending decision by the Attorney General as to whether or not Netanyahu could be tasked with forming a government despite the indictments against him should the Likud win the March 2020 election.

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