BBC WS radio presents a partial portrayal of ‘annexation’

The April 20th evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ included a discussion (from 30:09 here) between presenter Tim Franks and BBC Jerusalem bureau correspondent Tom Bateman about the agreement to form a coalition government signed by the leaders of the Likud and Blue & White parties several hours earlier.

While the first part of the item presented listeners with a reasonable portrayal of the topic, from 33:12 the focus shifted away from Israeli politics. [emphasis in italics in the original]

Franks: “What chance do you think, Tom, now that this new government is being formed, that we could see President Trump’s peace plan – which involves swathes of the West Bank being…eh…eh…pretty much annexed by Israel – coming into fruition?”

Bateman: “Well the agreement says that the process can begin – the legislative process in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament – from the first of July. Now Mr Netanyahu has been very keen for that process to take place; it forms a key part of the Trump peace plan. The Palestinians vehemently oppose it. They’ve walked away, they’ve boycotted any relations with the Americans and tonight they say that this agreement means the end of the two-state solution and dismantling of the rights of the Palestinian people. But Mr Gantz has…although he supports the agreement in principle, he’s stood a little bit further back from it and he’s said that there should be international coordination, that there should be Knesset committees and also a full vote of the Israeli parliament itself that should give a green light to this annexation.”

As we know, the BBC’s portrayal of the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposal published in late January was far from impartial:

A review of the impartiality of BBC radio coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

Reviewing BBC News website coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

That makes it all the more likely that those listening to this item would not be able to quantify Franks’ claim concerning “swathes of the West Bank” or put Bateman’s presentation of Palestinian statements concerning Israeli politics into their correct context. They would be unlikely to remember that the Palestinians rejected the US proposal and cut off ties with the administration long before it was published. Neither could they be expected to recall that the US proposal includes the transfer of areas in Judea & Samaria currently under exclusive Israeli control to the Palestinians, along with land swaps of Israeli territory. As explained at the Jerusalem Post at the time:

“…the 1993 Oslo Accords […] created the Palestinian Authority and divided the West Bank into three sections: areas A, B and C.

Areas A and B constituted 40% of the West Bank and were placed under the auspices of the PA. Area C, made up of the remaining 60% of the West Bank, was under Israeli military and civilian rule.

The Trump peace plan leaves intact the Palestinian Authority, but redraws the map of the West Bank, creating only two land distinctions: territory under the auspices of the PA and sovereign Israeli territory. Effectively, it leaves Israel 30% of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, and the Palestinians receive the remainder of the West Bank, including 30% of Area C.”

In other words, the proposal portrayed by Franks and Bateman solely in terms of Israeli annexation of “swathes of the West Bank” would actually provide for the creation of a demilitarised Palestinian state on 70% of the territory but that part of the story was not communicated to BBC audiences.

In addition, Bateman’s portrayal of Gantz’s approach to the issue does not clarify to listeners that the agreement he signed with Netanyahu does not appear to reflect those points.

Once again we see that audiences are provided with a version of events which promotes BBC talking points but fails to present them with the whole picture.

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