Following the BBC’s refusal to recognize the capital of the Jewish state, members of the Israeli Olympic team prepared a video last week in which they say they are proud to represent Israel “and its capital Jerusalem.”
On its website listing of countries participating in the London Olympics, the BBC had listed “East Jerusalem” as the capital for the Palestinian Olympic team, but listed Israel without a capital.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev wrote a letter on July 19 to the director of the BBC’s bureau in Israel, Paul Danahar, complaining of the lack of mention of a capital city on Israel’s page.
“I am dismayed by the BBC’s decision to discriminate against Israel on the BBC’s Olympic website,” Regev wrote. “Every country [and noncountry] participating in the London 2012 games has been given a page on your website with background information about the country, including mention of the capital city. Every country [and non-country], except Israel.
“Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, and accordingly we respectfully request the immediate rectification of this matter,” he added.
Following the letter, the BBC did make some changes.
In the newest edition of the Israel entry, Jerusalem is entered as the “seat of government,” with the proviso that “most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv.”
The “Palestine” entry was also altered and now reads that “East Jerusalem” is the “intended seat of government.”
Ramallah, the entry read, “serves as administrative capital.”
Palestine, according to the site, “is recognized as a competing [Olympic] country by the IOC but is not recognized as a modern state.”
This change was not satisfactory for Jerusalem. Regev, in a follow-up letter, made clear that for Israel “seat of government” was not acceptable, and he would appreciate if “Israel’s capital be identified accurately on your website.”
Regev was notified that this was the BBC’s policy, and that there would be no further changes. He said that the government would continue to pursue the matter.