IFJ Welcomes Lifting of Ban on Al-Jazeera in West Bank

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today welcomed the decision of the Palestinian Authority to revoke its order of 15 July to close Al-Jazeera's office in the West Bank, blaming the television network for "bias and incitement" in its broadcasts.

"This is a step in the right direction and we welcome it," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "But, the Authority must drop the lawsuit, as well, as a mark of their commitment to press freedom."

According to reports from the West Bank, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad, on 18 July issued a decision "to halt the suspension of work of the Aljazeera's office in Palestine, and allow the office to carry on its work as usual".

The decision was taken in order to enable the lawsuit brought by the Ministry of Information to follow its natural course, reports say quoting the statement form the Prime Minister's office.

The IFJ last week warned that recourse to courts will only lead to intimidation of media and called on the Palestinian Authority to find alternatives ways to challenge comments it criticised Al-Jazeera for.

"It is disappointing that the Government maintains its lawsuit, "added White. "No alternative seems to have been considered for addressing its grievances. This flies in the face of its stated concern for public freedoms, journalistic and media work."

For more information contact the IFJ at: + 32 2 235 2207

IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 123 countries around the world