Khaled Abu Toameh, the Jerusalem Post's well-connected and extraordinarily courageous (and therefore largely ignored outside Israel) writer, and himself a Palestinian Arab, describes today how Al-Jazeera has recently been banned from reporting inside the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority. And the media manipulation certainly does not end with Al-Jazeera.
The outrage if the Israeli authorities ever decided to impose an anti-democratic ban like this can only be imagined.
PA bars Al-Jazeera journalists from MukataGoogling the term "moderate Palestinian leader" brings up many hundreds of hits. So sad.
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
The Palestinian Authority has decided to ban a number of journalists from entering the presidential Mukata compound in Ramallah. The decision is aimed at punishing the journalists because of their criticism of the PA leadership or for reporting about the activities of Hamas leaders. Al-Jazeera reporters and TV crews are among those who now appear on the PA's blacklist. They have been denied access to the Mukata for the past two weeks. Other journalists working for Arab and Western media outlets have also been told that they are no longer welcome to visit the compound... The decision to ban Al-Jazeera came after the popular TV station failed to carry a live broadcast of a speech given by PA President Mahmoud Abbas in front of the PLO Central Council in Ramallah... Al-Jazeera has thus far refrained from reporting about the PA's decision to boycott the station. A source in the station said that the decision not to report about the ban was taken after the PA warned Al-Jazeera that publicizing the issue would only cause more damage to its reporters.
Earlier this week, the largest Palestinian news agency, Ramattan, decided to suspend its work in the West Bank after the PA leadership also banned its reporters from entering the Mukata. The agency also accused the PA security forces of raiding its Ramallah offices, arresting its workers and confiscating a mobile broadcast truck...
The PA has, over the past few years, become less tolerant toward "unfriendly" journalists, especially Palestinian newsmen who report about financial corruption and abuse of human rights in PA-controlled areas. Seven Palestinian reporters have been arrested by Abbas's security forces in the past few months for allegedly expressing sympathy with Hamas. Most were released after being warned against publishing material that reflects negatively on Abbas and the PA leadership.