IFJ Welcomes Prime Minister Pledge to Promote Safety of Journalists in Palestine

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the assurances given today by Salam

Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, to bring an

end to the harassment of Palestinian journalists by members of Palestinian security services.

At the meeting

with the IFJ mission to Palestine, the Prime Minister apologized to Palestinian journalists

for the rough treatment some journalists continue to experience at the hand

of his government's security forces saying "These are isolated incidents

that we never condoned and will not tolerate".

"The PM has been

very frank in his promise to work to end any bad treatment meted out to

journalists," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "We welcome his goodwill to make

amends but will not hesitate to remind him of his promise whenever new cases

come to light".

Referring to

the recently-launched government programme "Homestretch to Freedom", the Palestine PM briefed the mission about the

endeavour by his

government to give priority to the defence of journalists, their safety and their social and professional rights.

His intervention to cancel the license fee mounting debts that threatened the

survival of several broadcasting houses has been praised by journalists'

representatives as a first step to improve the statute of journalists.

This meeting

took place on a tumultuous day where the mission was forbidden to visit

journalists in Gaza as Israeli authorities refused to authorise members of the mission to

cross to Gaza.  The Palestine Journalists' Syndicate then organised a video link for its

members in Gaza to join their colleagues at a meeting due to take place in

Ramallah, only to be thwarted by Hamas authorities who stopped the Gaza-based University

of Al Azhar to operate the link.

"It is

incredible that both Hamas and Israel take similar hostile action, almost simultaneously

to stop Palestinian journalists from each side of the divide to talk to each

other," said Boumelha. "Whatever the barriers erected by the enemies of press

freedom, Palestinian journalists are determined to act in unison in the fight

for their right to free movement."

Spurred by the

activities generated by the IFJ mission, Palestinian women journalists gathered

at the PJS offices to attend a gender seminar with examples

of equality work by unions in Norway and Cyprus and discuss common

challenges as well as ways to get the important gender issues high on the

agenda of the renewed Palestinian union.

Decent working

conditions, the possibility of child care and equal opportunities for

female journalists were important issues which could make it possible

for women to continue as journalists and not give up their careers. They

agreed on the need to work within their union and its future gender committee

to obtain more equality and gender mainstreaming in the union and in the

Palestinian media workplaces.

The IFJ mission

also found time to visit journalists in Bethlehem where newly-launched

broadcasting and on-line media are having a dramatic impact on the traditional local

media landscape. Journalists from the various sectors pledged to unite in

launching a local branch representing staff working on all the platforms.

For more information, please contact Monir Zaarour on + 32 472 5876 90

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries