The International Federation of Journalists today renewed its appeal to Israel to end the ban on accreditation for Palestinian journalists, which prevents local media from covering the end of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip.
“This is a historic moment for Palestinians,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, as the work to remove settlements in the area began, “but local journalists cannot cover the story because Israel discriminates against Palestinian journalists and refuses to grant them press cards that will give them access to the area.”
The IFJ says that although Israel has apparently softened its hard-line stance over access to cards issued by the official press office, only a handful of Palestinian journalists have been granted a card allowing them to cross into Gaza to cover the story.
“Most of these colleagues work for the foreign media,” said White. “It is grotesque that Palestinian journalists from the West Bank wanting to report on the biggest story in the region for decades are forced to watch from the sidelines.”
Journalism in the region is almost entirely controlled by Israel, which three years ago imposed a total ban on Palestinians receiving any press credentials and only made limited concessions after the Foreign Press Association in Israel protested that the ban prevented international media from employing local journalists.
The IFJ says that all Palestinian journalists, particularly those recognised by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, should have the right to press credentials. Some journalists do continue to report from areas which they are barred from, but only by working illegally and at considerable personal risk. “We have to end the deplorable state of affairs whereby Palestinian media are unable to report on what is happening in their own country.”
The IFJ is also renewing its call for a fresh joint initiative from the Palestinian and Israeli Authorities to re-examine the way journalists are treated and media are regulated.
“It is time now for a joint approach that recognises the rights of all journalists - Israeli and Palestinian - and which ensures there is no longer any discrimination over press cards or the operation of media in the region,” said White.
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.