AN EMPLOYEE working inside the office of Qatar-based Al- Jazeera network in Jerusalem watches the news, last month..
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Government Press Office director Nitzan Chen have decided to not yet invalidate the press credentials of Al Jazeera senior reporter Elias Karam after he said he did not support terrorism.
The GPO announced two weeks ago that it would revoke Karam’s credentials pending a hearing that took place last week. At the hearing, Chen asked Karam about his statement that journalism was part of the Palestinian “resistance.”
Karam said in an interview to the Muslim Brotherhood television channel Dar al-Iman in May 2016 that “as a Palestinian journalist who is in an occupied area or a conflict area, journalistic work is an integral part of the resistance and of political and educational action. He added that “a journalist fulfills his role in the resistance through his pen, voice or camera, because he is part of this nation and is resisting in his unique way.”
But at the hearing, Karam said he did not see himself as part of the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel. Chen decided on Wednesday to freeze for six months the earlier decision to revoke the credentials, and meanwhile monitor his coverage.
“Freedom of the press is one of the foundations on which the GPO operates, but we will not allow the press card Israel gives to be used to be taken advantage of to struggle against the state,” Chen said. “Unfortunately, Al Jazeera has recently had a number of reports that do not fit the standards of professional factual reporting.”
Communications Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) sent the GPO information about Karam, as part of the minister’s efforts to shut down the Qatari-owned cable news channel in Israel. Earlier this month, Kara announced plans to close
Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem office and stop the channel from being broadcast in Israel, on grounds of incitement.
Kara’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the decision was not a defeat for the minister, because the GPO did not decide to reinstate Karam’s credentials but rather to freeze revoking them.
MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) said about pulling Karam’s press card, “It was a bad idea from the start, and like every bad idea, it was destined to fail. The media are not enemies of the State of Israel, and hostile coverage can be defeated with careful appraisal and with savvy. But Israel has forgotten what soft power is, and it hits out hard. That’s a mistake.”
Karam, 40, is an Israeli citizen who resides in Nazareth, and has had a GPO card as an Al Jazeera reporter since 2011.