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Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel. All journalists and news organisations should know this basic fact. The BBC, apparently, doesn’t.

On 14th October, the BBC’s nightly current affairs programme ‘Newsnight’ wrongly referred to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Reporting from East Jerusalem, the BBC’s Diplomatic Editor, Mark Urban, said: “This evening, there were signs of a more permanent setting up of checkpoints around Palestinian villages. A kind of division within Israel’s capital that its leaders have long wanted to avoid, but which this crisis has now prompted.”

Mark Urban’s report can be viewed on iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06j6jl5/newsnight-14102015
His report starts at 19 minutes and 34 seconds.
His statement that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital comes at 26 minutes and 25 seconds.

Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel. In 1947 with the UN partition of Palestine, Jerusalem was designated an international zone by the UN. However, Israel overran West Jerusalem and established a de facto border, known as the Green Line, between West and East Jerusalem and between Israel and the West Bank.

In 1967, Israel crossed the Green Line, occupied East Jerusalem and annexed it. Both the occupation and the annexation run contrary to international law.

No country recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and foreign embassies are based in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem is recognised internationally, and under international law, as a divided city, with East Jerusalem being occupied Palestinian land.

However, Israel wants to claim the whole of Jerusalem as its undivided capital. It is trying to create facts on the ground – eg the annexation, the demolition of Palestinian neighbourhoods in pursuit of forcing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem – to make this a reality.

By planting in its viewers minds that Jerusalem is already Israel’s capital, the BBC is helping to make this a reality.

Additionally, BBC viewers are being given the misleading impression that Palestinians living on Palestinian land – ie East Jerusalem -are living in Israel. In reality, they are living on their own land, under a brutal Israeli occupation. Israelis living in East Jerusalem are living there in violation of international law, and their presence could constitute a war crime under the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.

This is what the BBC should be reporting, rather than making inaccurate statements that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

What can you do?

Take action – complain to the BBC.
Make your complaint online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/
Provide the following information when prompted by the online form:
Name of broadcast: Newsnight
Channel: BBC Two
Date of broadcast: 14 October 2015
Time of broadcast: 10.30pm
Ask for a reply.

If you’re not happy with the BBC’s response, make a second complaint.

See also: PSC’s fact sheet What the media won’t tell you about East Jerusalem

Thanks to your complaints, on 16th October, the BBC issued a clarification on its website and on Twitter.