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 subject.”
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 accusations.
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.”
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,
Both Al-Jazeera Arabic and English service are affected by the suspension, according to The Associated Press. Al-Jazeera has about 30 correspondents,