Britain's Advertising Standards Authority blocked an advertisement promoting tourism in Israel earlier this week, following complaints that it was "misleading" in implying the occupied territories were part of Israel.
The ad, promoting a new book on northern Israel, first appeared in British newspapers in November 2011. It evoked no less than 350 complaints to the ASA, which oversees and regulates the advertising industry in the United Kingdom.
The complaints came mainly from pro-Palestinian organizations such as Friends of Al-Aqsa and Jews for Justice in Palestine.
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ASA released a statement saying the ad "must not appear again in its current form." The authority said it told the Israeli Tourism Ministry "not to imply that the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights were internationally recognized as part of the state of Israel. We also told [the Israel Government Tourism Office] not to imply claims were universally accepted if there existed a significant division of informed opinion."
ASA said the borders on the map attached to the advertisement were not clear enough and from looking at the map one could get the impression that the West Bank and Golan Heights are a part of Israel, rather than the "subject of much international dispute."
ASA said another reason for banning the ad was that it replaced the internationally-recognized term "West Bank" on the attached map with "Judea and Samaria."
The ad appears on London's Israeli Ministry of Tourism website without the map.
Blocking the ad was the last move in an advertising war between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists in Britain. In April 2010 the ASA banned an advertisement by Israel's Tourism Ministry because it included a photo of the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem. The Guardian reported the ad was blocked because it was misleading and did not make it clear the areas in the photo were in dispute.
In December 2011, the Palestinian Mission in London was forced to take down from its website an advertisement promoting tourism to the Palestinian Authority. The ad presented a map of the entire State of Israel as a map of Palestine. The ASA said the ad was misleading and instructed the mission to remove it.
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