THE BBC is facing demands to justify failing to cover a major intervention from a top Tory MP – who accused the UK Government of withholding vital information about Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Alicia Kearns, the Conservative chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, heaped pressure on ministers after she said the UK Government was keeping quiet legal advice which told them Israel was committing war crimes.

The BBC has failed to cover the story since the Observer broke the news on Sunday – despite it being widely picked up by other titles, including The National, the Financial Times, Sky News, The Independent as well as the PA news agency.

Its was mentioned in the daily paper round up online on Sunday, because the story splashed the Observer and on the Radio 4 news bulletin.

But it has not been featured on television or online. 

Now the BBC is facing calls to explain why it is “unwilling to report the full facts of our government's complicity with Israel”.

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Wael Shawish, the spokesperson for the Scottish Palestine Society which represents Palestinians living in Scotland, demanded the BBC explain why it “failed to cover" Kearns's (below) intervention.

The National: Alicia Kearns

He told The National: “Alica Kearns MP has been very clear in her statement that the UK Government has received legal advice which confirms it risks falling foul of international law by continuing to sell arms to Israel.

“This is a major news development as the BBC has failed to cover the story. As our national broadcaster an answer must be given as to why.

“For almost six months daily, Palestinians continue to be bombed, starved, and displaced, and the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel is committing a plausible genocide.”

He added that the BBC’s failure to cover the story made “clear” the broadcaster is “increasingly a state-run media outlet that cannot claim to act impartially” or fulfil its public service broadcasting role.

“Despite this, it is clear that the BBC is unwilling to report the full facts of our government's complicity with Israel,” said Shawish.

Kearns comments were first obtained by The Observer after the paper was handed a covert recording of the top Tory MP speaking at fundraising event.

“The Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law but the government has not announced it,” she said.

“They have not said it, they haven’t stopped arms exports. They have done a few very small sanctions on Israeli settlers and everyone internationally is agreed that settlers are illegal, that they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, and the ways in which they have continued and the money that’s been put in.”

She stood by her comments when the paper approached her for comment, saying: “I remain convinced the Government has completed its updated assessment on whether Israel is demonstrating a commitment to international humanitarian law, and that it has concluded that Israel is not demonstrating this commitment, which is the legal determination it has to make.”

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Her comments are significant because – if true – they mean the UK Government will either need to suspend arms sales to Israel and curb its support for prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government – or find itself exposed to the risk of legal challenge on the grounds of knowingly supporting a regime committing war crimes.

Government ministers, including Foreign Secretary David Cameron, have previously avoided saying whether they believed Israel to be acting within the bounds of international law.

Pressed by Kearns on the issue at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this year, Lord Cameron said “of course” he was “worried” about whether Israel may have broken international law.

Others, such as Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, have said more explicitly they believe Israel is acting within the law.

A BBC spokesperson said: "On the R4 bulletin [Sunday] the BBC covered Labour’s calls for the government to be more transparent with the legal advice it’s received."