Olympics / PMO Complaint Gets BBC to Change Its Tune on Jerusalem

PMO issued formal complaint that BBC did not list the city as its Israel's capital on its Olympics website.

The BBC agreed to list Jerusalem as Israel's "seat of government" on Thursday after the Prime Minister's Office issued a formal complaint that it did not list the city as its capital but did put East Jerusalem for Palestine's capital.

Relations between the Israeli government and the British Broadcasting Corporation have never been cordial. Criticism by BBC reporters and editors regarding government policies in the West Bank and Gaza have angered several Israeli prime ministers and other officials.

New tensions arose over the past few days over the BBC's special site dedicated to the Olylmpics. The site includes a page devoted to each of the countries taking part in the Olympic Games, which contains details about the athletes, the country's record in past Olympics and a few basic facts such as population size and capital city.

A few days ago, the Prime Minister's Office learned that on Israel's page on the BBC's Olympic website there was no reference to the country's capital city. Raised eyebrows in Netanyahu's bureau were soon supplanted by genuine anger when staffers noticed that on the page devoted to Palestine on the BBC site, East Jerusalem appeared under "capital city."

Mark Regev, Netanyahu's foreign press adviser, wrote a letter of protest to Paul Danahar, the BBC Middle East bureau chief, on Wednesday. Haaretz obtained a copy of the letter, which stated that he was "dismayed by the BBC's decision to discriminate against Israel on the BBC's Olympic website."

Regev wrote the BBC bureau chief that "every country (and non-country ) 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."

Yesterday, the BBC altered both pages, such that Israel's page now reads "Seat of government Jerusalem, though most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv," while Palestine's reads "Intended seat of government East Jerusalem. Ramallah serves as administrative capital."

A screenshot of Israel's page on the BBC's London Olympic website.