The arrest warrant that was issued this week for Tzipi Livni, Leader of Israel's Kadima Party, has been treated to fairly divergent coverage in the media in the last day or so since the story broke. MEMO's analysis of the press coverage shows that the sequence of events as they unfolded went from Al-Jazeera breaking the news of Livni's arrest warrant to Israel's denials, followed by confusion and then admissions.
It has been known for weeks now that Livni was planning a trip to the UK. The Jewish Chronicle advertised the fact that she was going to be a key speaker for at least two weeks running. The JC's advert for the "JNF Conference 2010" had her at top billing in both their 20th and 27th November issues. In the final edition before the event, Friday 11th December, they dropped the advert although it continued to appear on the paper's website until Saturday 12th December.
At around 10.30 the JC broke the news that Livni "pulled out of the trip for fear of lawyers obtaining an arrest warrant." However, later in the day her office said that she cancelled her visit because of a scheduling conflict and that her trip had been postponed weeks ago.
However, it seems that Al-Jazeera Arabic had the edge on all other news agencies when, at around 11am yesterday morning, they broke the news that a warrant had been issued for Livni's arrest. This Al-Jazeera scoop was then picked up by other news agencies and featured in the mainstream news at midday.
Two hours later an Israeli newspaper quoted the country's ambassador in London saying that British officials "stressed that they were not aware of an arrest warrant." Following this, for most of the day Israel continued to deny that an arrest had been issued until The Guardian published its item just before 20.00hrs confirming that an arrest was issued. Shortly after this the Israeli papers started to quote The Guardian without mentioning the Al-Jazeera report while the denial remained on their websites. Finally Ha'aretz at around 23.00hrs reported Israel's confirmation that an arrest warrant was issued.
Unsure perhaps of who to listen to and who to believe other news agencies, including Al-Jazeera English, picked up on the story fairly late in the night. Even though it had become evident that Al-Jazeera Arabic had in fact issued an accurate breaking news item, the late night reports made no mention of their scoop.