Discover Palestine website 311.
(photo credit: Discover Palestine website)
LONDON – The Palestinian Authority Mission to the UK breached British
advertising regulations in featuring on its website an interactive map of the
whole of Israel under the heading “Discover Palestine.”
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Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled on Wednesday that the Palestinian
delegation’s map – in the red, green and black colors of the Palestinian flag –
breached its code on misleading advertising in six instances.
considered that the average consumer would infer from the map and the linked
information that the total area represented by the map was the Occupied
Palestinian Territories. Because this was not the case, we concluded that
the website was misleading,” the ASA said in its ruling.
described Jaffa as “a Palestinian Arab city... military occupied by Israel since
1948,” and Haifa as part of Palestine.
“We noted that, according to the
UK Foreign Office, Jaffa and Haifa were in Israel. We considered that the
website implied that the cities were in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories. Because we understood that they were not, we concluded that
the website was misleading,” the regulator ruled.
The ASA also ruled
against the Palestinian delegation’s decision not to make a reference to east or
“We noted that the status of Jerusalem was in dispute. We
noted that this section of the website made no reference to east or west
Jerusalem or the fact that the status of the city was the subject of much
international dispute. We considered that the website implied that the entire
city was part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Because we
understood that that was not the case, we concluded that the website was
misleading,” it said.
According to the ASA, the website was guilty of
omitting material information after stating, “The old town of Hebron is one of
the oldest towns in Palestine.”
This, it said, also represented a breach
of its advertising code.
“We noted that rule 3.3 of the Code stated that
‘Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material
information’ and ‘Material information is information that the consumer needs to
make informed decisions in relation to a product.’
“We considered that the
particular nature of the security arrangements in Hebron and the restrictions on
traveling into and within the city was material information likely to affect the
decision of a consumer to visit the area as a tourist. Although we considered
that implying that Hebron was part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories was
accurate and not misleading, because the website omitted material information
regarding the promotion of Hebron as a tourist destination, we concluded that it
had breached the Code in this regard,” the ASA said in its ruling.
reference to Bethlehem on the website also breached rule 3.3 when it provided
selective information. The website stated that Palestinians were prevented from
entering some tourist sites, such as Rachel’s Tomb, but did not mention that the
site was only accessible from Jerusalem.
“We noted that Palestinians were
prevented from entering some sites, such as Rachel’s Tomb, without a permit, and
Israeli citizens could not enter Bethlehem without a permit. We also
noted that although the website provided information on Rachel’s Tomb, this site
was only directly accessible from Jerusalem. We noted that the website made no
reference to these facts.
“We considered that the movement restrictions
in Bethlehem were material information likely to affect the decision of a
consumer to visit the area as a tourist. Although we considered implying that
Bethlehem was part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories was accurate and not
misleading, because the website omitted material information regarding the
promotion of Bethlehem as a tourist destination, we concluded that it had
breached the Code in this regard,” the ASA said.
Following the ruling,
the Palestinian Mission said that it had made the necessary changes to its
website. The interactive map is now titled “Palestine in 1948,” which it said
depicted “historical Palestine.”
In addition, it said that the
color-coding had been changed to clearly demarcate Israel from the Palestinian
territories, and the map contained information about cities and tourist sites
that were “internationally recognized.”
Bethlehem and Hebron are in the
West Bank, the Mission said, and thus also within the pre-1967 lines, an area
they said were internationally recognized as part of the Palestinian
“We welcome this finding and thank our members who submitted
complaints,” said Alan Aziz, director of the Zionist Federation of the UK and Ireland. “It is vitally important that the British public receives
accurate information about the Middle East.”
“The ASA should be
congratulated on its careful and impartial scrutiny,” said Jonathan Turner, head
of the Zionist Federation’s legal group. “Too often we are on the defensive
against attacks on Israel and Israeli organizations.
“As this ruling
shows, those who attack us should pay more attention to failings in their own
camp. We will examine the revised website as well as other advertising and if
necessary make further complaints,” he said.
Last year the ASA deemed
unlawful the use of a picture of the Western Wall, with the Dome of the Rock in
the background, in an Israeli tourism advertisement.