Palestinian journalists criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend for meeting with Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff.
Last week, Abbas received Issacharoff in his office and condemned the recent assault on him by Palestinians near Ramallah.
Issacharoff said he and his photographer were nearly lynched by a Palestinian mob that had been incited by a Palestinian female journalist.
The two were rescued by PA security intelligence officers.
Palestinian photojournalist Fadi Arouri, who has been spearheading a campaign to ban Israeli journalists from entering Palestinian territories, said he was opposed to the meeting between Abbas and Issacharoff.
“I’m against Abbas receiving him and apologizing to him,” Arouri, who works for the Chinese news agency Xinhua, told Ramallah-based Wattan TV. “He [Issacharoff] is the one who should apologize to Palestinian journalists for involving them in this case.”
Arouri, who is a leading “anti-normalization” activist in Ramallah, said that Abbas’s advisers should have instead condemned “continued assaults on Palestinian journalists [by the IDF].”
Arouri said that Israeli soldiers had deliberately fired rubber bullets at Palestinian journalists on the same day that Issacharoff was attacked near the town of Beitunya, west of Ramallah.
“I reject President Abbas’s meeting with the Israeli journalist in light of Israeli assaults on us,” Arouri added.
Referring to Abbas’s condemnation of the attack on Issacharoff , Arouri said: “We don’t accept double standards.
We are the ones who deserve attention and not the Israeli journalists.”
Arouri repeated his appeal to the PA to “stop dealing with Israeli journalists until it receives assurances that Palestinian journalists wouldn’t be targeted [by Israel].”
He demanded that Israeli journalists sign a petition asking the Israeli government to guarantee freedom of movement for all Palestinian journalists.
Omar Nazzal, a senior representative of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank, also criticized Abbas for reportedly apologizing to Issacharoff over the assault on him by Palestinians.
Wattan TV quoted Nazzal as saying in a letter to Abbas that “During your term, seven Palestinian journalists were killed by the occupation forces.
We didn’t hear any condemnation or apology from the occupier – not from the [Israeli] prime minister and not from any [Israeli] journalist.”
Nazzal said that no Israeli had ever issued a condemnation or apology when “nearly 600 Palestinian journalists were injured by the occupation forces or when 70 journalists were arrested.”
Addressing Abbas, he asked: “Why are we protecting them when they work in our territories? Why do we allow [Israeli journalists] to continue their work as organs of deception and misinformation. Why are we preserving their dignity while they are humiliating us every day?” The Palestinian Safa news agency quoted Palestinian journalists as saying that they are “not welcome” at Abbas’s Mukata presidential compound while Israeli reporters are being welcomed and given access to top PA leaders.
The agency said that Palestinian journalist were “frustrated” with the leaders of the PA for failing to treat them and Israeli journalists equally.
Muhammad Yunis, a correspondent for the London- based Al-Hayat newspaper, told Safa: “The Palestinian Authority is welcoming Israeli journalists for political goals. It is trying to use these journalists to relay their positions and thoughts to the Israeli public. But at the same time, the Palestinian Authority should grant freedom to the Palestinian journalists and refrain from imposing restrictions on them.”
Yunis said that most Palestinian journalists were frustrated over the meeting between Abbas and Issacharoff.
“The president should support Palestinian journalists in obtaining freedom to work not only in the West Bank, but also in the 1948 territories [Israel]. Palestinian journalists feel that Israelis are more welcome by the Palestinian Authority than them,” he said.
Another journalist, Naela Khalil, from Nablus, told the news agency that most Palestinian journalists do not have access to Abbas and cannot interview him, “while the doors are being opened to Israeli media.”
The PA leadership must deal with Israeli and Palestinian journalists on an equal basis, she said.