US Senator Tweets 'Disappointed' in BBC Coverage

Republican Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sided with Israel in criticizing the BBC for refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

A view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives
A view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Republican Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Monday sided with Israel in criticizing the BBC's Olympics coverage.

Kirk tweeted that he is "disappointed BBC News refuses to recognize" Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Prime Minister’s Office created a Facebook page entitled “Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel" as a means of publicizing the BBC's decision to not list Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in its official Olympics coverage.

Kirk linked to the page, which has garnered 17,642 "likes" since last week, in his tweet, according to The Hill.

The British public broadcaster originally left the capital of Israel blank on the country's page on the site. Following protests from Israeli officials, the page was changed to list Jerusalem as the country's "seat of government." 

The BBC page also qualifies the designation by adding: "Though most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv.”

“I am afraid that despite your efforts, Israel is still discriminated against on the BBC’s London 2012 Olympics website,” Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev wrote to the BBC following the first change. “Unlike all the other countries listed, in Israel’s case, our capital Jerusalem is not classified by the BBC as such but rather as a ‘Seat of government.’ I kindly request that Israel’s capital be identified accurately on your website.” 

Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat also blasted the "political agenda" of the BBC in a press release saying, “throughout the history of Jerusalem, with over a dozen conquerors, only the Jewish people have called the Holy City of Jerusalem our capital.”

“Jerusalem today, under Israeli sovereignty, has returned to the role it played 2000-3000 years ago. There is unprecedented freedom of movement and religion and the world is welcome and encouraged to enjoy the beauty and majesty of Jerusalem,” Barkat asserted. “We will not accept those who deny our history, our sovereignty, and our right to determine our own capital. Irrespective of the BBC's political agenda, Jerusalem was, is, and will always be the capital of Israel and the spiritual, political, and physical center of the Jewish people.”

The Olympic’s page for “Palestine” reads: "Palestine is recognized as a competing country by the IOC [International Olympic Committee] but is not recognized as a modern state." The page originally listed East Jerusalem as its "capital," but now lists it as the "intended seat of government." According to an additional note on the page, "Ramallah serves as administrative capital."

In his speech at this year’s AIPAC conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu wished Kirk, who is recovering from a stroke, a speedy recovery, calling him "a great friend of Israel."