Mr. Nitzan Chen
Director of the Government Press Office of Israel
1 Agudat Sport Hapoel Street
Via email: [email protected]
August 18, 2017
Dear Mr. Chen,
We at the Committee to Protect Journalists--an independent, nonprofit press freedom organization--are writing to request that at a hearing scheduled for August 21, the Government Press Office reverses its decision to revoke the press card of Elias Karram, an Israeli journalist and Al-Jazeera Jerusalem correspondent.
A Government Press Office statement on August 16 questioned Karram's ability to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of remarks he gave in a 2016 interview with the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated channel Dar al-Iman. Karram told the channel that Palestinian journalists in occupied areas are an integral part of the resistance and its educational political activity. In its questioning of Karram's ability to cover events in Israel, the press office referred to journalist ethics and standards of fairness.
Walid Omary, Al-Jazeera's Jerusalem bureau chief, told CPJ that Karram's remarks were taken out of context and were not broadcast on Al-Jazeera. Omary added that he believes Karram is being targeted as part of the political campaign against the channel. The Israeli government has proposed a draft bill to revoke the broadcaster's license, close its offices, and revoke accreditation for its staff, claiming that its broadcasts incite violence.
CPJ cannot find any justification for the harassment of Karram or evidence of Al-Jazeera inciting violence, as defined by the internationally recognized Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression. As I wrote for The New York Times earlier this month, the Israeli government has offered no specific evidence to justify its claim that the Qatari broadcaster incites. Furthermore, media diversity is an integral part to press freedom.
We ask that the Government Press Office reverses its decision to strip Karram of his press credentials and allows him and all Al-Jazeera staff to operate in Israel freely.
Program Coordinator, Middle East and North Africa Program
Committee to Protect Journalists