- Published on Sunday, 29 July 2012 17:02
By Gary Spedding
Correspondence between the BBC's Middle East Bureau Chief, Paul Danahar and Israeli Prime Ministers office spokesperson Mark Regev reveal yet another politicised attempt to bully the world into accepting Israel's illegal and illegitimate claim of Jerusalem as the Jewish state's "United and Eternal" Capital.
In a letter addressed to Mr Danahar dated 18th July 2012, Regev exclaimed that he was "Dismayed by the BBC's decision to discriminate against Israel on the BBC's Olympic website" and that "Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel" the letter closes with a demand that an "immediate rectification of this matter" be made.
Bearing in mind the sensitivities of the on-going conflict it should be noted that the BBC is often caught between a rock and a hard place on the Israel-Palestine topic as both sides have strong lobby groups in the United Kingdom. Most advocacy groups are more than happy to swoop down menacingly upon the BBC if any reports appear to be too favourable to one side or the other. Regularly the public can see anti-Palestinian groups claiming that the UK media has an anti-Semitic or Israel hating agenda whilst at the same time supporters of Palestinian human rights and equality, usually of the hard-line radical left variety, claim the BBC is a "Zionist propaganda machine".
Neither accusation is ever usually accurate.
One thing that the BBC could have done in order to avoid this latest criticism would have been to label both Israel's Capital and Palestine's as West or East Jerusalem adding a disclaimer suffix to read along the lines of "subject to final status agreement" because to be frank the deliberate oversight in naming Israel's capital city permitted anti-Palestinian bigots their golden opportunity to politicise a sporting event bio page and get away with it. Relenting to Regev the site now describes Jerusalem as Israel's "Seat of Government" and also notes "though most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv." Yet that still wasn't enough as was seen when a second letter was sent and furious backlash from anti-Palestinian groups occured.
Politically and legally speaking Israel has a government in deep denial over Jerusalem and worse still is that no expense is too great in concisely planned efforts to shift both national & international opinion in favour of Israel's stated position thus suckering the world's public into the delusion that Israel's undivided capital is Jerusalem.
Of course the reality on the ground is that Jerusalem is deeply divided showing little to no cohesion; extensively divided by walls, fences, cut-off points and checkpoints the physical barriers are entrenched further by numerous existential social inequalities and economic gaps. Disenfranchisement of Palestinians is an on-going systematically 'quiet' Israeli policy in East Jerusalem. Deep rooted discrimination is inflicted daily on nearly 40% of this "eternally united" city's population and very little is feasibly done to end it.
Legal positions on the status of Jerusalem vary; B'tselem the Israeli human rights NGO stated in a January 2012 article that;"Between 1948 and June of 1967, Jerusalem was divided in two: West Jerusalem, which covered an area of about 38 square kilometres, was under Israeli control, and East Jerusalem, which contained an area of some 6 sq. km, was ruled by Jordan."
It further claims that "following the 1967 War, Israel annexed some 70 sq. km to the municipal boundaries of West Jerusalem, and imposed Israeli law there." And that an "additional 64 square kilometres, most of which had belonged to 28 villages in the West Bank, and part of which belonged to the municipalities of Bethlehem and Beit Jala".
The reports most contentious claim is that "demographic considerations were decisive" and that the Israeli government's "objective was to strengthen Israeli sovereignty over the city by creating a Jewish majority."
The United Nations maintains its recommendation that Jerusalem be placed under corpus separatum and most decisions either by general assembly or Security Council are based in UN resolution 181 on this matter. According to a 1979 report prepared for and under the guidance of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, it would appear that the UN has maintained that until the final status of the city is agreed by the parties involved, the legal status of the city remains a corpus separatum.
More recently in 2009 the General Assembly Resolution 63/30 states that "any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and calls upon Israel to cease all such illegal and unilateral measures."
Israel has to date refused to acknowledge international consensus and international law on the status of Jerusalem. Knesset members in July 1980 passed a Basic Law which declares that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel."
Contempt with this unilateral decision is registered by most Nations including Great Britain by maintaining their embassies in Tel Aviv whilst having their diplomatic mission to Palestine in occupied East Jerusalem.
Despite all of this it is still clearly a major talking point for Israel's hasbarista's and various official Embassies. They even made a political video that is unofficially designed to embed the "fact" myth that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Open disregard for International law and consensus on Jerusalem is common place among Israeli officials who happily use every argument possible no matter how preposterous to tie us up in knots over this and many other topics.
British Jews who have been distracted with campaigning hard for the Minute silence for Munich have also slammed Israel for politicising an Olympic profile page claiming how ludicrous it is that an actual campaign has formed over such a "stupidly small issue". Most people who believe in a two state solution say openly that Palestinians should have East Jerusalem as their capital after final status negotiations have taken place.
If one considers the 'throw toys out of pram' approach made when the PA does anything remotely unilateral it appears Israel enjoys contradicting itself by its own actions; thus proving the occupation is not merely temporary and that when Israel discusses the "Peace Process" it is no more than an empty talking point designed to fool the gullible, especially considering all the proposed solutions over the last 20 years, clearly stipulate there should be two states for two peoples with a capital of Israel in West Jerusalem and a capital of Palestine in East Jerusalem.
I think the BBC was wrong to display no capital city at all for Israel but correct in the overall scope of things in trying to avoid a political onslaught from either side.
Better luck next time Mr Regev!
Also Published at Spedding's Blog