The BBC’s insistence on describing Jerusalem as an Israeli city, despite such a status not being recognised under international law, has been condemned by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
In a ruling delivered this week, the BBC Trust appears to have accepted Israel’s facts on the grounds, namely that Jerusalem is a united Israeli city.
Writing to PSC, the Trust quotes the BBC’s Senior Editorial Strategy Advisor, Leanne Buckle, in her assessment of the BBC’s decision to describe Jerusalem as an Israeli city.
The Trust writes: “The advisor [Buckle] acknowledged that Israel’s sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem was not recognized under international law. However, she considered that Israel had de facto control over the entire city in a political, administrative and military sense. She also noted that Jerusalem was administered as a single entity by the Jerusalem municipal authority which made no distinction between East and West.”
Based on this, the Trust has said it will not consider a complaint by PSC that BBC journalists are breaching the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on Accuracy when they refer to Jerusalem as an Israeli city.
Under international law, only West Jerusalem is considered to be under Israeli de facto control, not the whole of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is described by the UN as Occupied Palestinian Territory that has been illegally occupied and annexed by Israel.
In recent months, items on the BBC’s Today
and The World Tonight
programmes have described the whole of Jerusalem as being an Israeli city. The country profile page for Israel
on the BBC website states that Israel’s seat of government is ‘Jerusalem’.
To date, the BBC continues to insist that it will not change this entry to ‘West Jerusalem’.
Sarah Colborne, Director of PSC, said: “The BBC’s refusal to distinguish between East and West Jerusalem flies in the face of international law and international opinion.
“Instead, Leanne Buckle’s comments reveal that Israel’s illegal creation of facts on the ground appear to have been accepted in BBC newsrooms and by BBC senior management. What’s more, the BBC seems willing to elevate this illegality above international law in its reporting. This is extremely disturbing.”
Colborne added: “The status of Jerusalem is a sensitive issue, and all reporting relating to it should be subject to the highest standards of accuracy by responsible news organisations. The BBC appears to have thrown accuracy out of the window, along with international law. Moreover, it seems to have airbrushed Palestinians and East Jerusalem out of the picture.”
“All we’re asking is that the BBC inserts the word ‘West’ before ‘Jerusalem’ when referring to the part of the divided city that is recognised under international law as being under de facto Israeli control. It’s a question of accuracy. Why is the BBC fighting so hard against it?”