Previously we looked at Lyse Doucet’s amplification of the false claim that Israel is responsible for the supply of Coronavirus vaccinations to Palestinians on BBC World Service radio on January 2nd.
“Also on the programme, How did Israel get to lead the global coronavirus drive?”
The item began with a conversation between presenter Paul Henley and BBC Jerusalem bureau correspondent Tom Bateman, with the latter providing an explanation of the logistics involved in the vaccination campaign. It continued with an audio version of a report by Bateman from the Mea Sha’arim neighbourhood in Jerusalem which is very similar to parts of a filmed report published on the BBC News website.
At 14:30 Henley brought in questions from his studio guests, with the first posed by “Eunice Goes, Portuguese born professor of politics at Richmond University in the UK” as she is described in the synopsis. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]
Goes: “I was wondering if Israel had any plans to vaccinate the Palestinian populations in the occupied territories. I know that so far…ah…the roll-out programme has not included them.”
Bateman: “It hasn’t and…ahm…Israel has been asked this question. In fact there was a letter written to the Ministry of Health by a group of around 15 [sic] human rights and aid organisations saying that, as the occupying power, Israel had the – they said – moral and ethical responsibility to ensure that.”
Bateman made no effort to inform BBC audiences that the ten – rather than 15 – groups he described as “human rights and aid organisations” include political NGOs (in some cases foreign funded) with a record of lawfare campaigns against Israel such as B’tselem, Amnesty International Israel, Gisha, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, Adalah, Al Mezan and the PCHR – the latter two of which are known to have links to the PFLP terrorist organisation.
He hence concealed the political agenda behind the campaign run by those groups which, as previously documented (see ‘related articles’ below), has enjoyed no small amount of direct or indirect amplification from Western media outlets.
As we have already noted, under the terms of the 1995 Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority took on responsibility for the healthcare of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and it is hence the PA health ministry which is responsible for vaccinating Palestinians.
Bateman however unnecessarily qualified that crucial information using the well-worn ‘Israel says’ formula:
Bateman: “Now the Israeli position legally is that it believes under the Oslo Accords that it is the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority to make that happen.”
Although the Palestinian Authority clarified weeks ago that it has not asked Israel to supply it with vaccines, Bateman failed to provide listeners with an accurate account:
Bateman: “It’s not clear that the PA has actually made a formal request to Israel to supply vaccines and it has been up until now trying to procure vaccines on its own and there’s a couple of things to say there. I mean it had said that it was hoping to get the Russian vaccine. That seems to be off the table now. But it is part of the COVAX programme and that’s the World Health Organisation…ehm…programme to procure vaccines for poorer countries. But even there that would only at best supply around 20% of the population. So Palestinians are still waiting. There are 5 million of them in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. The ministry of health in Ramallah – the Palestinian Authority ministry of health – said that they hope within a couple of weeks actually to start getting vaccines but there were no numbers on that, there were no…there was no talk of which companies would be providing it. So that seems a little unclear and certainly the World Health Organisation has suggested it could be well into even the middle of the year before…ahm…you know, big numbers of people start being vaccinated.”
Tom Bateman had the opportunity in this item to set the record straight. He could have explained that the Palestinian Authority took on responsibility for the provision of healthcare to Palestinians, including vaccinations, when it signed the Oslo Accords twenty-five years ago and that there is hence no reason for Palestinians to be included in Israel’s “roll-out programme”. He could have clarified that – despite the claims of assorted political activists purporting to be “human rights” groups – Israel bears no responsibility for the provision of vaccines of any kind to Palestinians and that PA officials have stated that they have not requested Israel’s help in procurement of supplies.
Instead, Bateman provided an unhelpful account which does nothing to enable BBC audiences worldwide (and at least one contributor) to understand that the story they may well have encountered as promoted by some media organisations – including BBC World Service radio – is completely baseless.