The news that Mahmoud Abbas had unilaterally decided to dissolve the one year-old ‘Palestinian Unity Government’ was reported on the BBC News website’s Middle East page in an article titled “Palestinian unity government ‘to resign over Gaza row.’” The article originally appeared on June 16.
Excepting the very coy description of Hamas’ violent seizure of power – and the lack of any mention of the fact that the results of the 2006 Palestinian elections no longer hold any relevance (“…Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in 2006, ousted Fatah from Gaza in 2007…”) – the report is reasonable and correctly notes that:
“Israel has insisted it will not deal with a government backed by Hamas, which is sworn to its destruction.”
As readers will of course recall, it was Abbas’ decision to form that unity government with Hamas, which was the final nail in the coffin of the last round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in 2014.
However, listeners to the June 17th edition of BBC World Service radio’s ‘BBC World Update: Daily Commute’ – available for a limited period of time here, from 3:04 – heard a decidedly different take on the story. Whilst the first part of the five-minute item is indeed devoted to discussion of the subject matter between host Dan Damon and guest Ghassan Khatib, starting around 5:27 the focus changes. Damon – apparently ignorant of the fact that the last round of negotiations collapsed because Abbas chose to embrace and legitimize Hamas (the terror organization that refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist) – poses the following misleading question.
Damon: “There isn’t much of a peace process anyway in relationship between the Palestinians and the Israelis but does this make it more unlikely that there’ll be any kind of valuable negotiation?
Khatib: “I don’t think there is any great deal of interaction between forming or not forming a new Palestinian government on one hand and the Palestinian-Israeli relations on the other hand because chances are almost zero about the peace process, especially after the last Israeli election and the election of that far Right-wing government that has no interest in discussing the possibilities of Israel giving up its illegal control over the Palestinian occupied territories.”
Failing to clarify to listeners that any current Israeli control over territory occupied by Jordan in 1948 is the result of agreements willingly signed by the representatives of the Palestinian people over two decades ago and therefore cannot be accurately termed “illegal,” Damon asks:
“Was this an opportunity missed, do you believe, to improve the lives of some desperately poor people in that part of the world?”
Khatib: “Yes, I think that much of the needs of people can be better fulfilled on a practical level, on humanitarian level, on services level, between the bodies in charge of the West Bank and those in the Gaza Strip. However, much of this is also related to the Israeli restrictions. Israel is supposed to be more forthcoming in easing the blockade against Gaza and easing the restrictions and the settlement expansion and the settlers violent [sic] against Palestinians in West Bank, especially East Jerusalem.”
Damon’s next question-cum-political statement provides plenty of insight into the motives behind his failure to challenge that blatant propaganda.
Damon: “And if you follow that analysis through, this gives the hardliners on the Israeli side exactly what they want. They can say ‘look – no negotiating partner so we’ll continue with our policy of creating facts on the ground’.”
Khatib: “Actually, this is like mixing the cause with the effect. It’s actually the victory of those Right-wingers in Israel and their continued settlement expansion is the reason why there is no sound negotiations. Palestinian side is ready for negotiations – that was announced again and again, including last week by President Abbas in a conference in South Africa. He said that he’s ready to go back to negotiations. But is Israel ready to negotiate the future of the Palestinian territories? That’s the main question. Is Israel ready for the two state solution? Even the closest friend of Israel, President Obama, said on an interview last week with Israeli Channel 2 that there’s little hope that this government Israel is ready for a two state solution.”
The item ends there, with listeners deprived of any chance to hear the Israeli point of view or response to the propagandist allegations touted by Khatib.
This was supposed to be a report informing audiences about the dissolution of the PA unity government and of course there was no need to introduce Israel into the story at all. Instead, Dan Damon turned it into an exercise in Israel bashing and the one-sided promotion of falsehoods and propaganda intended to further the Palestinian Authority’s PR campaign. So much for accurate and impartial journalism.