Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

Palestinian Authority closes al-Jazeera offices in Ramallah

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 15 July 2009
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Palestinian Authority closes al-Jazeera offices in Ramallah, 15 July 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a604bc419.html [accessed 25 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the closure by the Palestinian Authority of the offices of al-Jazeera on the West Bank for "putting out false news" after a Palestinian politician went on a talk show yesterday and implicated President Mahmoud Abbas in the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004.

"This decision is a violation of the freedom to inform the public on the West Bank. It is vital that all points of view, even if they are shocking, should be freely expressed within Palestinian society", the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"If the media which relay them are frightened of being seized, banned or closed, President Mahmoud Abbas will be responsible for this deterioration", the organisation added.

Secretary General of Fatah, Farouk Kaddoumi, referred in the programme to the responsibility of Abbas and Mohamed Dahlan, the leader of Fatah in Gaza, in the death of Yasser Arafat in November 2004.

A journalist at the Qatar-based channel told Reporters Without Borders that three police officers had arrived at the station's Ramallah offices at around 2pm today and ordered all staff to stop work. Bureau chief, Walid Al-Omari, had been informed by phone and email earlier in the morning of the Palestinian Authority's decision. The station's 35 staff on the West Bank have now been laid off until further notice and are unable to report the news. The Palestinian Authority said it would be taking the case before the courts.

The channel's management in Doha, Qatar, said in a statement that they were "astonished" by the Palestinian Authority's decision to suspend its work in the West Bank and to open proceedings against the channel".

They pointed out that al-Jazeera has always observed journalistic ethics and that "a decision of this type by the Palestinian Authority constitutes a violation of media freedom and a refusal to allow different views to be expressed". The channel added that other media had put out the same report.

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