Sunday, 19 July 2009

Palestinian Authority ends ban on Al-Jazeera

Journalists on Sunday (July 19) welcomed a statement by the Palestinian Authority that said on Saturday (July 28) it will allow Al-Jazeera television to resume operations in its territory after banning the news channel from broadcasting earlier this week.
The Palestinian Authority last week banned the Qatar-based Arabic news channel and threatened legal action over allegations it broadcast against President Mahmoud Abbas.

Salam Fayyad, prime minister in Abbas's government in the occupied West Bank, said in a statement he has decided to 'revoke the suspension of work' of the bureau of Al-Jazeera.

Fayyad added the Palestinian Authority would pursue legal action against the broadcaster for its 'continuous incitement' against the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority.

"There weren't conditions or demands, what happened is that I was called to the Prime minister office, where they noticed me about the decision as they told me when they closed the office. We hope that these procedures will be history," said Walid Al Omari, Bureaux Chief of Al Jazeera in the Palestinian Territories and Israel.

"We hope this will be the last procedures taken by the Palestinian authority against Media in the Palestinians territories, not only in West bank but also in Gaza strip," Al Omari added.

Last week, Palestinian Information Ministry said Al-Jazeera had spread falsehoods and incited viewers against the authorities that run the West Bank.

The ministry said allegations carried earlier on Al-Jazeera attributed to a senior figure in Abbas's Fatah party, Farouq al-Qadoumi, were untrue.

The channel quoted Qadoumi as saying Abbas conspired with Israel to kill his predecessor Yasser Arafat in 2003. Arafat died in a Paris hospital in 2004 of an undisclosed ailment.

Conny Mus, Foreign Press Association's Deputy Chairman in Israel, underlined the importance of free press in the region.

"We are very pleased that the Palestinian Authority reconsidered their decision and that Al-Jazeera can do their job as a journalistic operation in this part of the world and we hope that they will continue to respect the most holiest issue for any entity or a country and that is freedom of the press," Mus told Reuters in Jerusalem.

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK (JULY 19, 2009) REUTERS