Thus whilst this morning's news reports say that Al-Jazeera claim to have sight of thousands of documents that show that Palestinian Authority negotiators have been telling one story of no compromise to their population and the world whilst in reality offering concessions to Israel, the BBC prefer to report the story thus:
'Palestinians question 'offers' leaked by al-JazeeraThat's an interesting line 'The BBC has been unable to verify the documents independently''. Do the BBC have to independently verify all documents before they accept them as correct? Do the BBC independently verify each Wikileaks document before eagerly reporting it? Did the BBC independently verify each leak from the last Conservative government before rushing to report? Do the BBC have to independently verify all documents or just those that report news that inconveniences their allies?I believe that the documents under discussion in this report have been verified by The Guardian, surely the word of their natural allies is good enough!
Top Palestinian officials have questioned the veracity of leaked documents purporting to show offers of major concessions to Israel.
The documents, obtained by al-Jazeera, suggest the Palestinians agreed to Israel keeping large parts of illegally occupied East Jerusalem - an offer Israel apparently rejected.
But chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the leaks were "a pack of lies".
The BBC has been unable to verify the documents independently.'
The above-mentioned BBC article does of course betray other prejudices; first it parrots the Palestinian line that:
'Current peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been suspended for months, ostensibly over Israel's refusal to stop building Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.'Not a mention of the requirements, that have been broken, for the Palestinians to cease attacks on Israel and indeed recognise Israel's right to exist within secure borders. There is also no recognition that if these cables are accurate then the Palestinian Authorities screams about Israel's building in East Jerusalem,screams that the BBC have enthusiastically amplified, are meaningless if the PA conceded to Israel this right in May 2008.
Second the piece repeats the Palestinian line that:
'Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967, establishing close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements.'Without reporting Israel's claim to this land that was promised to Israel in the Balfour Declaration but given to the Palestinian state of Jordan instead, and only retaken when Israel defeated the multitude of Islamic attackers who invaded Israel in 1967.
Third the piece reports that:
'And they were reported to be willing to discuss limiting the number of Palestinian refugees returning to 100,000 over 10 years.'Not a mention of who these 'refugees' are and why they are still 'refugees' some 60 or nearly 45 years after the events that made them (or more likely their ancestors) refugees; why are the Palestinians the only people to be made permanent refugees by the United Nations? There is of course also no mention of the millions of Jews expelled from Muslim countries in 1948 who were not declared refugees at the time, nor who still live as refugees now, but were absorbed into Israel as the Palestinian refugees should have been absorbed into Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt in 1948 and 1967.
Fourthly and maybe most importantly the BBC show their prejudices very clearly in this sentence:
'Palestinian negotiators are said to have proposed an international committee to take over Jerusalem's Temple Mount, which houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque - Islam's third holiest site.'The Temple Mount is indeed 'Islam's third holiest site' as the BBC love to remind us. It is also Judaism's holiest site but the BBC prefer to keep that quiet. Whilst Jordan occupied Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967 Israelis were no allowed into the Jewish holy sites, Jews were restricted and Jewish religious sites were treated with a lack of respect and in at least one case as an army latrine. By way of contrast Israel has not restricted access for Muslims to the Dome of the Rock & the Al-Aqsa Mosque despite them being partly built on top of the site of 'the Temple'; what would be the holiest site in Judaism had it not been destroyed. Indeed the Western ('Wailing') Wall is all that remains of the Second Temple.
It is interesting that Israel, the only Jewish state and one often derided as an 'apartheid state', has left Islamic holy sites even those that sit on top of Jewish ones alone. Of the Islamic states that surround Israel, how many have done the same for their sites of Jewish religious or historical importance?
The BBC, for them, had a tough choice and an easy choice in reporting this story. The tough choice was whether to take the Palestinian Authority or the Hamas line on the leaks; they have walked somewhat of a tightrope on this one. The easy choice, for them, was whether to take the Palestinian or Israeli line; they plumped for slavishly following the Palestinian line.
I wonder what a poll of BBC staff would find is their view of what should be the future of Israel? I would suggest that the BBC is institutionally biased against Israel, that that was one of the conclusions of the Balen Report and that that is why the BBC is so determined that that report is never released.