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Israeli and Palestinian journalists come together for more press freedom and safety

Israeli and Palestinian journalists come together for more press safety
Walk for justice: Palestinians journalists hold up banners and pictures of killed Reuters TV cameraman Fadel Shana, 23, during a march demanding results of the investigation of his death, in Gaza City, Monday, June, 16, 2008. Journalists marched through Gaza City to demand Israel's army to release the results of its investigation into how a Reuters cameraman was killed while filming tank movements. Shana was apparently hit by a tank shell in April as he filmed Israeli tanks during one of the deadliest days of fighting between Palestinians militants and Israeli forces.Photo: Associated Press (AP) / Hatem Moussa

Israeli journalists have spoken out against restrictions on freedom of movement facing reporters in Palestine and proposed a joint forum with Palestinian colleagues to deal with a range of problems facing media and journalists in the region.

In a meeting with a delegation from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in Jerusalem recently leaders of the Jerusalem Association of Journalists (JAJ) proposed setting up a regional forum to encourage joint action by Palestinian and Israeli journalists on issues such as safety and freedom of movement. They also suggested setting up a hotline to help journalists in trouble. The IFJ delegation also met members of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS).

“This would be a major step forward for journalists,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “Joint action by Israeli and Palestinian journalists to tackle problems both groups face — such as restrictions on freedom of movement - will strengthen efforts to remove obstacles to the exercise of journalism.”

Palestinian journalists say that restrictions on movement between Gaza and the West Bank are proving an obstacle to organising a conference of their syndicate.

Haim Shibi, Head of the Jerusalem Association of Journalists Committee on foreign relations, said: “We recognise the problems. It is clearly unacceptable that Palestinian journalists are unable to meet to organise themselves. Israel should allow journalists to move freely and all journalists, both Palestinian and Israeli, should be able to carry out their professional duties in safety and without fear or intimidation. That is a challenge, too, for the Palestinian Authority.”

The meeting between IFJ and the Jerusalem journalists covered concerns over stalled negotiations with employers on a new collective agreement. Journalists are under pressure because of declining working conditions, falling media quality and attacks on public broadcasting. It was also agreed to strengthen links between the National Federation of Israel Journalists (NFIJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).

The head of the PJS, Naeem Tobasy, MENASSAT, "Now there are serious attempts under way by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and the IFJ to pressure Israel into implementing a new policy to deal with Palestinian journalists and their issues."

"It is routine for Palestinian reporters to be denied access to areas that are easily accessible to their Israeli colleagues. Examples include not being allowed into Jerusalem without a special permit – "something the Israeli government is notorious for not extending," Tobasy said.

The MENASSAT report said that Tobasy himself has been unable to reach his office, which is in Jerusalem. "I applied a few days ago for a permit to enter Jerusalem through the Palestinian General Authority of Civil Affairs and it was denied. I reported the incident to the IFJ," he said.

The move is also being seen as a thawing of relations. In 2006, JAJ temporarily suspended its membership of IFJ after IFJ president Aidan White condemned the Israeli bombing of Al-Manar, the Hebollah TV station, during the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese militia.

Date posted: September 25, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 395