MADA: Decision to Allow Newspapers to Circulate in the West Bank, Gaza Must Be Activated



The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) demands an end to the effects of the division of the media and to activate the decision of the Freedoms Committee to allow the distribution and re-printing of Palestinian newspapers across the West Bank and Gaza.

MADA welcomes the strong efforts of the Palestinian leadership to accomplish reconciliation and calls for its acceleration on the ground and in accordance with the schedules agreed upon in Cairo. Journalists and the Palestinian people have been disappointed on several occasions at the failure of reconciliation attempts, despite repeated promises and frequent agreements.

Moussa Rimawi, MADA Director General, states that reconciliation is of supreme national interest, particularly following the acceptance of Palestine as a non-member observer state at the United Nations. He also asserts that the reconciliation will hold positive outcomes for the Palestinian media, which have suffered significantly since the political split in mid-June 2007.

Rimawi confirmed the need to activate and implement the decision of the Freedoms Committee to allow the distribution and reprinting of Palestinian newspapers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; the decision was taken by the Committee at the beginning of last year and its application was due to commence on 15th January 2012. Newspaper readers in Gaza have been prevented from reading West Bank newspapers and vice versa for several years, contrary to Article 19 of the Palestinian Basic Law. The prohibition of the distribution of newspapers is also causing large financial losses.

MADA launched a campaign in December 2011 for the re-printing and distribution of newspapers banned in the West Bank and Gaza, and an end to the effects of the division on the Palestinian media. MADA sent official letters to President Mahmoud Abbas, leaders of Palestinian factions and members of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization as part of the campaign. Furthermore, the Center collected tens of signatures from Palestinians, journalists and intellectuals for a petition to support the goal of the campaign, which was also promoted through the MADA magazine.

Rimawi remarked that the media sector has suffered more than any other from the effects of the division, with a large number of its employees being subjected to considerable abuse and harassment. This has led to the poor state of freedom of expression and public freedoms in general, and the deterioration of media freedoms in particular. It has also increased instances of self-censorship among journalists and local media outlets.

Rimawi expresses hope that reconciliation efforts succeed, but states that the Palestinian people would like to see evidence of concrete steps that contribute to the achievement of reconciliation, including the elimination of the negative effects of the political split on the media. He also appeals to journalists and the Palestinian media to devote their efforts to promoting a spirit of trust and tolerance as well as encouraging dialogue within Palestinian society.

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