Palestinian journalists have called for a ban on Israeli media personnel from entering the occupied West Bank. The move is seen as retaliation for the restrictions that they face on working in Israel and comes after an Israeli journalist was forced to leave a press conference at the Palestinian Ministry of Information in Ramallah last week.
Journalist Naila Khalil pointed out that Palestinian media professionals are nearly all prevented by the Israeli army from entering Israel in the course of their work. “We are all for freedom of the media in all directions, but what is happening is that this is a one-way process as far as we are concerned,” said Khalil. “An Israeli journalist can enter the Palestinian territories freely while a Palestinian journalist cannot even move freely around our own land, never mind Israel.”
The move to block Israeli journalists does not pose a threat to anyone, she added, “but we demand to be treated equally”.
The Union of Palestinian Journalists has sent a letter to President Mahmoud Abbas calling for him to implement a ban on Israeli journalists from entering Palestinian territory, just as the Israelis ban Palestinians.
Deputy Minister of Information Mahmoud Khalifa asserted that his department is working on “organising” the work of the foreign media, according to Palestinian law. “This will cover the Israeli media as well,” he insisted.