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Date posted: July 16, 2009
By MIFTAH

MIFTAH, the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy is greatly disturbed by the Palestinian Authority's recent suspension of Al Jazeera Satellite Channel's work in the West Bank. The suspension, which was announced on July 15, comes on the backdrop of what the PA called the channel's "incitement and false information" against the Authority. The office of Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad has also announced that the PA would file a lawsuit against Al Jazeera on the same charges.

MIFTAH is extremely concerned with this clear violation of freedom of the press, a right supposedly enshrined in the Palestinian Basic Law (Article 19): "Every person shall have right to freedom of thought, conscience and expression and publication of his opinion." It calls on the PA to retract its decision and allow Al Jazeera to resume its work in the West Bank. Such moves, regardless of the justifications given, are a dangerous precedent, and will inevitably follow with further restrictions on Palestinian freedom of expression and a free press. If the suspension of a widely-watched Al Jazeera is viewed as an acceptable means of responding to broadcasted political allegations, this will only allow for further repressive measures against other media outlets, something which MIFTAH views with grave concern given its ramifications on society and its embrace of democratic values.

Again, MIFTAH urges the Palestinian Authority and all parties to abide by the basic right of freedom of expression and a free press. It would also encourage all media outlets to adhere to responsible and professional media guidelines in order to truly help create a democratic and free Palestine.

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