The Palestinian daily Al-Quds has come under intense criticism over the past 24 hours for publishing an interview with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday.The Hamas-run Government Press Office condemned the interview and said on Monday it is considering the possibility of barring the distribution of the paper in Gaza. “What the paper did is unacceptable and unjustifiable on both the professional and national levels,” said Salama Marouf, chairman of the Government Press Office in Gaza.Al-Quds, which was founded in 1951 and based in Jerusalem, interviewed Liberman on a variety of topics, ranging from the possibility of another war in Gaza, economic development and the peace process.
The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate issued a press release on Tuesday denouncing the interview.“The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate strongly condemns what Al-Quds has done in interviewing the minister of the occupying Israeli army, Avigdor Liberman,” said a statement on its website. “The Journalists’ Syndicate not only considers the interview unacceptable normalization with the occupation, but also coordination with it.”The syndicate questioned if Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who conducted the interview, did so to advance personal interests.“After reviewing the interview, to which the paper dedicated an entire page, the Journalists’ Syndicate determined that the interview was not professional... Thus, it is our right to ask if there were any personal interests involved for the person who coordinated and conducted the interview,” the statement said, calling on the paper “to present a written clarification to the Journalists’ Syndicate and its readers.”The Palestinian Authority Information Ministry in Ramallah issued a long statement condemning Liberman, but also said it is displeased Al-Quds would “grant a platform to a killer, or report the unacceptable language and terms that Liberman used.”Despite the criticism, Abu Khdeir and other Al-Quds editors have defended the interview.Speaking to the Al-Quds News Network, Abu Khdeir said: “It is a shame that a 50-year-old newspaper cannot conduct an interview with the other side [without facing intense criticism],” clarifying that Al-Quds opposes normalization and has been forcibly closed by Israel six times.Abu Khdeir also said the interview is no different than reporting official Israeli statements, which other newspapers do everyday.“There is no problem with the interview as long as all the newspapers publish announcements from the Israeli army, police and government,” he said. “The only difference this time is the newspaper was the source and not the Hebrew press.”According to the news network, Al-Quds’s editorial staff has firmly stood behind its decision to run the interview and even fired one of its journalists, Ahmad Yousef, who denounced the newspaper for reporting it.Palestinian journalists rarely conduct interviews with Israeli ministers and officials today. However, before the second intifada and during the peace talks of the 1990s, both Al-Quds and Al-Ayyam, another Palestinian daily, published interviews with Israeli ministers, including a former defense minister.
Liberman gives interview to Palestinian media