Israel boycotts Sharon
By Sharon Sadeh
October 17, 2002
The BBC's Middle East bureau chief Andrew Steele has asked BBC
London to boycott Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's bureau, not to ask
Sharon's people for any comments or reactions and to interview only
Foreign Ministry officials.
In an internal memorandum to BBC producers, Steele said, "The
Israeli government is withholding press accreditation from Palestinians
working for the BBC, as part of a long war of attrition between
the Prime Minister's Bureau and the foreign media. It is difficult
to find appropriate ways of retaliation without losing our journalistic
objectivity. Except for one thing - I would like to deprive the
prime minister's spokesmen of their platform. Until we resolve this,
I would appreciate it if any guest bookers would approach Foreign
Ministry officials only - Gidon Meir, Zvi Pzaner, Arye Mekel, Mark
Sofer and others - and not Ra'anan Gissin, Dori Gold etc. who work
BBC management sources said yesterday, "We always aim to cover
the Middle East conflict in a fair and balanced way. The BBC and
other media in Israel are currently looking to resolve the issues
with the Israeli government regarding the press accreditation."
The spokesman of the Israeli Embassy in London said Israel regards
this request with severity and that "this behavior is not surprising."