The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict in the Palestinian Legislative Elections
This is the fourth report issued by The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy- Miftah on the media coverage for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in coordination with Keshev- Center for the Protection of Democracy in Israel on monitoring the media coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The goal of the project is to facilitate the development of a bold and professional media, and a culture of tolerance, moderation and understanding between the two peoples, through monitoring, research, advocacy and lobbying activities without infringing upon the freedom of the media and the freedom of expression.
In our previous report, we essentially addressed the type of media coverage through the unilateral disengagement from Gaza Strip and clarified that the Palestinian media had been trapped in the official story and had not attempted at challenging it. We also made a number of recommendations, most notably that in order to diverge from the official story, the media must distance itself from the circle of influence of the Authority and become independent.
In this report we discuss the media coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict during the Palestinian Legislative Council Election, specifically the campaigning of the different electoral blocs from 3 January 2006 to 23 January 2006, due to the extreme importance of that period, during which the Palestinian forces sought to win the support of the Palestinian public opinion for their different programs, and during which the ability of the Palestinian media to influence voters and urge them to choose what best suits their interests could be monitored.
Since the launching of the election campaigns, the Media Monitoring Unit at MIFTAH divided the subjects to be monitored into the following categories:
1. Palestinian media coverage of the positions of the different electoral blocs towards Jerusalem: Was the subject raised by the blocs? How was it raised? Under what headings was the Jerusalem issue addressed? For example, supporting the steadfastness of the people of Jerusalem, isolating Jerusalem from its surroundings by the Wall, means of confronting the situation, inviting the people of Jerusalem to participate in the elections, gatherings and demonstrations in Jerusalem if they occurred, special programs on the participation of Jerusalemites in elections; was the limited participation in Jerusalem overlooked and why? What were the policies, if any was drawn, adopted by electoral blocs for enhancing participation. How were these policies presented and what space did they occupy in the Palestinian media?
2. The political programs of the electoral blocs: How did the media present the programs of each bloc; what were these programs, and did they focus on popular, armed or nonviolent struggle? Did these programs propose political plans for resolving the conflict, and what were those plans? Did the Palestinian media seek to highlight the political differences, if they existed, between political blocs? Was there any bias to a certain party and what was the nature of such bias? Did the electoral blocs focus more on internal issues, such as corruption and security disorder, or on the conflict with Israel? Did the blocs address the Road Map, and how did the media present such an issue?
3. Hamas in the media: Hamas participated for the first time in the Legislative Election. How did the media present their political program, or the discourse of its political leaders? Is there any contradiction between participation in the Election and what Hamas maintains regarding its rejection of the Oslo Agreement and its outcome, including the authorities and commitments; how was this presented?
4. The Palestinian political prisoners: How did the media present the process of the participation of prisoners in elections, whether through their presence in electoral lists, or through their denial of their right to vote? Did the media focus on that issue? Was this issue present in the media in the first place, and how was it presented to the public?
5. Israeli closure of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the practices of the Israeli occupation: How did the media address the fact that Jerusalem was closed against candidates? Did the media highlight the impact of the closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip on candidates, and how did it address the fact that Israeli authorities denied the candidates freedom of movement through fixed, mobile or flying checkpoints? Did the Palestinian media cover the Israeli occupation measures against candidates, lists and voters, specifically those measures that negatively influence the elections process?
It should be pointed out that a large part of this issue overlaps with the two subjects on Jerusalem and Hamas. For this reason we tried to avoid repetition, despite the fact that occupation practices inside Jerusalem may be listed under the subject of Jerusalem, closures or under abusive practices of the occupation against the electoral process as a whole.