State of the media



Prior to the Oslo accords in 1993, which led to the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority, Israel denied any Palestinian living outside Jerusalem the right to publish a newspaper or start a radio or television station. The only Palestinian newspapers that did exist were published in Jerusalem. Since then new newspapers have been established, and Palestinian national and independent radio and television stations were launched. However, the conflict with Israel has had a big impact on the media: harassment of journalists, impediments to free movement make the working conditions of Palestinian journalists very difficult. Furthermore, the second intifada that started in 2000, plunged many media establishments into financial troubles, while the conflict between Fatah and Hamas  has led to a further deterioration of the working environment.

 

Written press

There are three main Palestinian dailies in addition to several weekly and monthly periodicals. Al-Quds has the widest circulation and is close to the Palestinian Authority. The two others are published in Ramallah, al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida. Most media exercise cautious self-censorship, particularly on the issue of internal Palestinian politics. Israeli checkpoints often prevent newspaper distribution.

 

Audiovisual media

Palestinian radio and television stations started to emerge after the Oslo accords. The Palestinian Authority (PA) established a radio station, Voice of Palestine, a television

channel, followed by a satellite channel. In 2006 they came under the jurisdiction of the president Mahmoud Abbas. The independent television stations include Al-Amal TV based in Hebron, Amwaj TV, Bethlehem-TV, and Nablus TV (Nablus). Jordanian television is also widely watched, as well as pan-Arab satellite broadcasters.

Independent radio stations include Radio Amwaj, Radio Tariq al-Mahabbeh, Nablus FM, and Radio Bethlehem 2000.  

 

Online media

Telecommunications in Palestine are deeply affected by the conflict with Israel. Israel controls much of the sector because the Palestinian network is routed through the Israeli grid. Despite all problems currently an estimated 243,000 Palestinians have access to the internet. In 2001 the Palestinian National Authority for the Internet (PNAI) was founded with the purpose of administering the Internet in Palestine. Internet cafés are the most important means by which Palestinians access the Internet. It is estimated that in 2004 there were some 300 Internet cafés in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. There is no official censorship of the Internet and no regulations covering the dissemination of information on the Internet.

 

News agencies

In addition to the official government news agency, the Palestine News Agency (WAFA), there are several independent agencies. These include the Jerusalem Media & Communication Center, set up by a group of Palestinian journalists and researchers, the Ramattan News Agency, the Ma’an News Agency that is sponsored by the Netherlands’ and Danish Ministries of Foreign Affairs, and recently the International Middle East Media Center has announced it will start operations. In all probability the number of news agencies reflects the need of objective information.

 

Media organizations

The official journalists syndicate, Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, is the only professional organization. There is, however, a number of organizations dealing in one way or the other with Palestinian media. In addition to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, whose reports can be accessed at HRInfo, there is an excess of organizations focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

Media policies

The press in Palestine is organized by law n°9, which came into force in 1995, regulating print and publishing. Articles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of this law insist on freedom of expression and publication for all Palestinians. It grants journalists the right to protect the confidentiality of their sources and political parties the right to publish newspapers. However, article 7 stipulates that it is illegal to publish anything that goes against the general system, without defining what this means. Furthermore, a license must be obtained before a periodical may be published. Article 37 lists the various prohibitions, such as publishing information about confidential police files, or dealing with matters of public order, articles denigrating religions or posing a threat to national unity. The law also contains vague phrases. For example, publications must not “contradict the principles of ... national responsibility” or publish material that is “inconsistent with morals” or which may “shake belief in the national currency.” Publications must also deposit copies with the government prior to distribution.

A new law on broadcasting has been drafted. It includes a large number of

positive provisions and would represent the most progressive broadcasting

law in the Arab world. There is also a draft law on access to information that if passed could increase transparency and accountability.