The Palestinian Authority targets al-Jazeera 16 July 2009Posted by foray in al-jazeera, al-Qadumi, arrests and expulsions, crackdown, Kaddoumi, Kaddumi, Palestinian Territories, فاروق القدومي, الجزيرة.
The Palestinian Authority is the latest Arab government to attempt to crack down on al-Jazeera.
The Palestinian Ministry of Information says al-Jazeera’s office in Ramallah has been closed down after the broadcaster aired a programme that amounted to incitement and sedition. It added that the ministry will take the channel to court and that the suspension of all its operations in the West Bank will continue until the judiciary rules on the matter.
During its Behind the News programme on Tuesday al-Jazeera broadcast Fatah member Faruq al-Qadumi’s comments at a press conference in Jordan alleging that current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and other officials along with Israel had been involved in a plot to kill Yasser Arafat in 2004.
Walid al-Omary, al-Jazeera’s local director, rejected the accusations. “We regret this decision, which harms the freedom of expression and the press in this country,” he said.
What happens next?
History suggests the Palestinian Authority (PA) has little to gain by permanently expelling al-Jazeera’s employees, and both sides will eventually have to reach a face-saving compromise. The resolution of a previous al-Jazeera-PA spat shows how this may come about. In March 2001 PA security forces raided and shut down the Ramallah office after al-Jazeera aired a documentary trailer featuring a sequence of pictures deemed insulting to then-leader Yasser Arafat. Arafat, who had been visiting Saudi Arabia, returned several days later and arranged a meeting with al-Omary, telling him he had been unaware of the bureau’s closure and ordered the authorities to immediately re-open the building.
Abbas has yet to comment and is, perhaps conveniently, currently in Egypt attending the Non-Aligned Movement summit.