BBC map ignores occupation of Jerusalem

A deceptive map published on the BBC’s website. (BBC)

The BBC has published a map on its website, which indicates that Jerusalem is not occupied by Israel. 

This graphic (see above) was used to illustrate at least two stories on the BBC website in recent months.

It can be viewed online two thirds of the way down a story titled “Israel: Hamas ‘will pay price’ after teenagers found dead.” The map shows the city of Jerusalem as being wholly inside Israel. In reality, Jerusalem is under Israeli military occupation. 

The false map was also used at the bottom of a story from 23 September titled “Israel kills Palestinians suspected of teenagers’ murders.” However, following a complaint from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), made on 8 October, the map was altered, and Jerusalem is now depicted as nudging the Green Line — which separates present-day Israel from the territories it captured in 1967.  

Although those territories include East Jerusalem, the entire city is depicted as being within Israel even in the revised map.

The BBC’s decision to deliberately move the physical location of the city on a map and place it within Israel defies belief.

However, it does not defy understanding. In 2013, following a challenge from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the BBC Trust ruled that BBC journalists were not being inaccurate if they referred to Jerusalem, in its entirety, as an Israeli city.

In an email sent to the PSC in May that year, the Trust referred to the judgment of Leanne Buckle, BBC’s senior editorial advisor, stating: “The advisor 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.”

For this reason, the Trust told the PSC, it would not consider any further complaints, which asserted that the BBC was in breach of its editorial guidelines on accuracy if it referred to Jerusalem as an Israeli city.

“Misleading its audiences”

This is despite the fact that the editorial guidelines on accuracy clearly state: “The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences.”

The PSC made a further challenge over the BBC’s online country profile page for Israel, which gives Israel’s seat of government as Jerusalem.

The PSC pointed out that East Jerusalem is under occupation.

In July 2013, Richard Hutt, the BBC’s complaints director, emailed to say: “Although all Israel’s government buildings are in the West of the city, it does not alter the fact they are in Jerusalem.”

The PSC’s request for accuracy in BBC reporting, for BBC journalists to recognize that Jerusalem is under a military occupation, was consequently dismissed.

Hutt’s response belongs in the theater of the absurd. Buckle, shockingly, accepts the fact that Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem was illegal under international law and reveals that the BBC is happy to peddle Israeli claims that Jerusalem is an Israeli city as fact.

This is the background that provides an understanding of why the BBC’s next logical step in any campaign to assert Jerusalem as a wholly Israeli city is to produce maps which transplant it into Israel.

The BBC is abandoning its role as a news broadcaster, and one that is supposed to be independent, in favor of acting as a champion of Israel’s claims to Jerusalem.

Inaccurate news reporting is one thing. But producing false maps and inserting them into online articles takes the BBC’s support of Israel and its illegal territorial claims to a frightening new level.

Following a complaint from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the BBC has altered the maps illustrating the aforementioned articles.




Business men are not journalists. They write to each other only. While taking money from the sweat of people.


On the "country profile" page for Israel, linked above, the BBC writes: "Population: 7.7 million (UN, 2012)".

This suggests the population number is sourced by the UN. However, the UN website says this data is "provided by Israel". It also says explicitly that it *includes* Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank (aka settlers).

UN data page: "Designation and data provided by Israel. The position of the United Nations on the question of Jerusalem is contained in General Assembly resolution 181 (II) and subsequent resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council concerning this question. Including data for East Jerusalem and Israeli residents in certain other territories under occupation by Israeli military forces since June 1967."

The number of Israelis in East Jerusalem and West Bank is circa 500,000, so the error in BBC's "population of Israel 7.7M" is 15% (or 1/6).

So, BBC first suggests UN trustworthiness as a source, and then uses a number that is known to be grossly incorrect. It is not even correct for the BBC-expanded Israel (annexing "Jerusalem [sic, this must mean East Jerusalem] and Golan" as Israeli area).


The road serves as the border between the West Bank and Jerusalem, and so the Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem are located, according to this map, in the west bank. The white box is not in Jerusalem, but more around Abu Gosh.

So while the map indicates on one level that Jerusalem is an Israeli city disconnected from the west bank, it also marks everything to the east of the Hebron road as the west bank.

It is almost as if the BBC anticipated that this would be seen as a way of legitimising territorial claims...


The BBC News site also has a country profile page for "Palestinian territories".

The page says: "Population: 4.4 million (UN, 2010)" and "Area: Palestinian Ministry of Information cites 5,970 sq km (2,305 sq miles) for West Bank territories and 365 sq km (141 sq miles) for Gaza ".

So East Jerusalem is omitted as "area", whereas their source includes it. This is a BBC a choice & change without need (i.e., an opinion).

And actually the UN data source says (not used by the BBC this time): "Population in 2011 (estimated): 4,152,000; Includes East Jerusalem".
This way, BBC counts twice the inhabitants of East Jerusalem: as population both for Palestinian Territories and Israel.


Public broadcasters are often short of funds, and we can only assume from this behaviour by the BBC that they're receiving substantial funding from conservative US or Zionist sources.

Amena Saleem

Amena Saleem's picture

Amena Saleem is a journalist and activist. She has twice driven on convoys to Gaza and spent seven years working for Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK.