New York, April 26, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomes the ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice yesterday overturning a sweeping government ban on press accreditation for Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The court ruled on Sunday, April 25, that Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) could not impose a blanket restriction on accreditation for Palestinian journalists, and that Palestinian journalists should receive press credentials provided they are given security clearance. The court ruled in response to separate law suits brought by Reuters news agency and the Qatar-based Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera regarding the accreditation of their reporters.
In January 2002, the GPO, citing security concerns, adopted a sweeping policy of refusing to give accreditation, or GPO cards, to Palestinian journalists employed by international news organizations. Media organizations complained that this policy hampered their ability to report the news. While GPO cards do not automatically guarantee entry into East Jerusalem or Israel, they greatly facilitate the movement of journalists through military checkpoints and allow journalists access to government events.
"We welcome Sunday’s ruling and look forward to its speedy implementation," said CPJ Senior Program Coordinator Joel Campagna. "We trust that this decision will alleviate the unreasonable curbs that have been imposed on Palestinian journalists."