BBC World Service news binges on partially presented building permits story

h/t SK

On the night of October 24th – 25th a particular story was promoted every half hour as the second item in BBC World Service radio bulletins read by newsreader Fiona MacDonald. For example:

BBC News 24/10/2021 21:01 GMT from 00:50:

MacDonald: “There has been condemnation from inside and outside Israel of the government’s move to build more than thirteen hundred additional homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank. Tenders have been issued for the construction work, which is seen as the last step before building begins. The Jordanian government said the plan was a violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. The Palestinian prime minister Mohamad Shtayyeh said the Palestinian president would ask the international community to oppose the move.”

Voiceover recording Shtayyeh: “The world must make Israel pay the price for its aggression against our people, especially in this latest wave of building settlements and settlement units. President Abbas is chairing a meeting of the Palestinian leadership to discuss these developments and to launch an international Palestinian campaign to curb this Israeli aggression against our people.”

BBC News Summary 24/10/2021 21:30 GMT from 00:25:

MacDonald: “Moves by the Israeli government to build more than thirteen hundred additional homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank have been condemned by Jordan, which called the plan a violation of international law. The Palestinian prime minister has called on the world to curb what he called Israeli aggression against his people.”

BBC News 24/10/2021 22:01 GMT from 00:54:

MacDonald: “There has been condemnation from inside and outside Israel of the government’s move to build more than thirteen hundred additional homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank. Tenders have been issued for the construction work, which is seen as the last step before building begins. Sophie Glass-Ryan reports.”

Glass-Ryan: “The Israeli decision drew an immediate response from the Palestinian Authority who described it as Israeli aggression that could have a catastrophic impact on chances to make peace. Israel’s neighbour Jordan said it was a violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. In Israel itself, Mossi Raz from the Left-wing Meretz party, which is in the governing coalition, said that building in settlements outside of Israel harmed the country.”

BBC News Summary 24/10/2021 22:30 GMT from 00:26:

MacDonald: “Israel is pressing ahead with plans to build more than thirteen hundred additional homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank despite condemnation from inside and outside the country. Tenders have been issued for the construction work, which is seen as being the final stage before building begins.”

BBC News 24/10/2021 23:01 GMT from 00:53:

MacDonald: “There has been condemnation from inside and outside Israel of the government’s move to build more than thirteen hundred additional homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank. Tenders have been issued for the construction work. The Jordanian government said the plan was a violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. The Palestinian prime minister Mohamad Shtayyeh said the Palestinian president would ask the international community to oppose the move.”

Voiceover recording Shtayyeh: “The world must make Israel pay the price for its aggression against our people, especially in this latest wave of building settlements and settlement units. President Abbas is chairing a meeting of the Palestinian leadership to discuss these developments and to launch an international Palestinian campaign to curb this Israeli aggression against our people.”

BBC News Summary 24/10/2021 23:30 GMT from 00:24:

MacDonald: “Moves by Israel to press ahead with the construction of more than thirteen hundred new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank are facing international criticism. The Jordanian government said the plan contravened international law and UN Security Council resolutions.”

BBC News 25/10/2021 00:01 GMT from 00:56:

MacDonald: “There has been condemnation from inside and outside Israel of the government’s move to build more than thirteen hundred additional homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank. Tenders have been issued for the construction work, which is seen as the last step before building begins. Sophie Glass-Ryan reports.”

Glass-Ryan: “This is the first time the Israelis have pressed ahead in this way since the coming to power of President Biden, who opposes settlement construction. The Israeli decision drew an immediate response from the Palestinian Authority who described it as Israeli aggression that could have a catastrophic impact on chances to make peace. Israel’s neighbour Jordan said it was a violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. In Israel itself, Mossi Raz from the Left-wing Meretz party, which is in the governing coalition, said that building in settlements outside of Israel harmed the country.”

Seeing as BBC Radio 4 presents a “selection of BBC World Service radio programmes” for several hours after its own programming has ended, some of those news bulletins were also heard by domestic listeners.

So what is the actual story that the BBC purported to report?

First of all, the planning applications concerned are all located in Area C rather than simply “the occupied West Bank” as confusingly claimed in these BBC reports. Under the terms of the Oslo Accords agreement between Israel and the representatives of the Palestinians, Area C remains under Israeli control until final status negotiations have taken place. The body that grants planning permissions in Area C is therefore the Civil Administration’s planning committee.

Last week media outlets in Israel reported in both Hebrew and English that the committee would be meeting in the near future to approve plans delayed since August because of a strike by Civil Administration employees. The last time planning permissions were granted in Area C was in January 2021.

As noted by the Jerusalem Post, on the committee’s agenda are planning applications in both Israeli and Palestinian communities in Area C.

“The Supreme Planning Council of the Civil Administration will approve next week the promotion of planning and construction of about 3,100 new housing units in settlements in the West Bank and about 1,300 housing units in Palestinian villages in Area C. […]

The number of housing units to be brought in for approval next week will be larger than the original plan. The number of housing units in the settlements increased by about 900 housing units and the number of housing units for Palestinians increased by about 350 housing units.” 

A subsequent report by the Jerusalem Post provides further details:

“On October 31, the council is also set to advance six projects totaling 1,303 homes for Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, which is under IDF military and civilian control.

This includes 270 homes in Al-Ma’assara village in the Bethlehem area, 233 homes in Almasqufa in the Tulkarm area and 200 in Dkeika in the South Hebron Hills.

In addition, plans for the Jenin area will be debated regarding 160 homes in Abba a-Sharqiya, 170 homes in Khirbet Abdallah Younas and 270 in Bir Albasha.

Of all those, only the 170 homes in Abdallah will receive final approval. A plan for 50 Palestinian homes in Khirbet Zakariya in the Gush Etzion region was dropped.”

According to Channel 13, 170 of the planned housing units for Palestinians were granted approval at the same October 24th meeting in which 1,355 units were approved in seven Israeli communities.

As we see, the BBC World Service completely ignored the part of the story relating to hundreds of building permits in Palestinian communities, which is particularly remarkable given that the corporation frequently tells its audiences that such permits are virtually impossible to obtain.

Instead the BBC chose focus audience attentions solely on the topic of “homes for Jewish settlers” in all these reports. While the talking points of a far-Left Israeli MK, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority were extensively and repeatedly amplified – including the unsubstantiated claim that the construction of houses for Israelis “could have a catastrophic impact on chances to make peace” – BBC audiences heard no alternative viewpoints whatsoever.

Once again the BBC made no effort to meet its obligation to provide audiences with “accurate and impartial news…to build people’s understanding”.  

Related Articles:

BRITISH OUTLETS ERR ON WEST BANK SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION

WHY IS THIS ISRAELI PLANNING DECISION DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS FOR THE BBC?

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