Sunday, July 19, 2009

PA reconsiders Al-Jazeera suspension

Appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has reportedly backed down on suspending the operations of the popular Al-Jazeera television network over its broadcast of comments made by senior Fateh leader Farouq Qaddoumi implicating President Mahmoud Abbas in conspiring to kill his predecessor Yasser Arafat. The Palestinian Authority accused Al-Jazeera of incitement and spreading "false information" and announced it would sue to network and suspend its West Bank operations until the conclusion of the trial. Fayyad has apparently backed down on the suspension but has decided to continue and try and prosecute Al-Jazeera under the 1995 Press and Publications law, which allows for freedom of the press as long as broadcasts to not undermine the "high interests of the Palestinian people."

Fayyad's decision was panned by a slew of media and rights organizations in Palestine, including Human Rights Watch, the Palestine Media Forum, the International Federation of Journalists, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. 60% of Palestinians regularly tune into Al-Jazeera, making it the network of choice for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

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