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Israel cuts off ties with bbc

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Last Update: 29/06/2003 13:30

Israel cuts off ties with BBC

By Anat Balint, Haaretz Correspondent

Israel declared over the weekend that it is cutting
off ties with the BBC to protest a repeat
broadcast on non-conventional weapons said to be
in Israel.

The program was broadcast for
the first time in March in
Britain, and was rerun Saturday
on a BBC channel that is aired
all over the world.

The boycott decision was made by
Israel's public relations
forum, made up of
representatives from the Prime

Minister's Office, the Foreign Ministry and the
Government Press Office.

It was decided that government offices won't
assist BBC producers and reporters, that
Israeli officials will not give interviews to
the British network, and that the Government
Press Office will make it difficult for BBC
employees to get press cards and work visas in

Before the broadcast Saturday, Israeli officials
tried to pressure the BBC to cancel the
broadcast, saying that the program was biased
and presented Israel as an evil dictatorship,
ignoring the existential threat it was facing.

The forum members were furious at the trailers
to the program, which showed pictures of the
Dimona nuclear reactor and the biological
institute in Nes Tziona, with the narrator
saying, "Which country in the Middle East has
not declared the nuclear and biological weapons
in its possession?"

The trailer also says that there is no external
supervision over Israel, "which is holding in
custody for 17 years a man who has leaked its

The broadcast deals with Israel's attempts to
maintain a policy of ambiguity on its nuclear
weapons, through the Va'anunu affair, the trial
of Brigadier General Yitzhak Ya'akov and the
incidents of cancer among the Dimona nuclear
reactor workers.

Danny Seaman, the head of the Government Press
Office, has been saying for some time that the
BBC has a clear anti-Israel policy, bordering
on anti-Semitism. Seaman told Army Radio on
Sunday that the BBC broadcast was an attempt to
tarnish Israel.

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