New York, July 15, 2009--The Committee to Protect
Journalists condemns the Palestinian Authority's decision today to suspend the
operations of Al-Jazeera in the West Bank after the satellite channel aired a
controversial interview on Tuesday.
The suspension, according to a Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information
statement, will remain in place until "the judiciary issues a ruling on the
The Ministry of Information's actions came a day after
Al-Jazeera broadcast its talk show "Behind
the News" from Doha, Qatar, to discuss
accusations made earlier in the day by Faruq al-Qadumi, a Fatah party
leader, against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Al-Qadumi had told
journalists in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday that Abbas and
the former head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service, Muhammad Dahlan,
were involved with Ariel Sharon in a plot to assassinate former President
Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian leaders in 2004, according to regional news
reports. Many Arab media outlets, including Al-Jazeera, reported on the
The Ministry of Information said that it plans to file a
lawsuit against Al-Jazeera because of its "incitement and unbalanced reporting
from the Palestinian territories."
are alarmed by this decision of the Palestinian Authority to punish Al-Jazeera
for allowing critical discussion of Fatah party affairs," said Robert Mahoney,
CPJ's deputy director. "These are matters of legitimate interest to the
Palestinian public. We call on the Ministry of Information to immediately allow
resume all its operations in the West Bank."
Walid al-Omary, Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in the West Bank, said that a spokesman for the Palestinian
Authority was invited to participate in the show, but that he was unavailable at the time. An
Al-Jazeera presenter read a statement by the Palestinian Authority condemning
and rejecting al-Qadumi's
accusations at the beginning of the show, he told CPJ.
Both Al-Jazeera Arabic and English service are affected by
the suspension, according to The Associated
Press. Al-Jazeera has about 30 correspondents, cameramen, fixers, and technicians operating
in the West Bank.
Since June 2007 Fatah has consolidated its control over the
West Bank, after Hamas took control of Gaza and ended a short-lived coalition
government. Journalists and publications have been often targeted by the two factions.
Both Fatah and Hamas
have frequently detained journalists and banned publications that have not espoused