Abbas accuses Qatari media of bias towards Hamas

Abbas accuses Qatari med

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lashed out at Qatari journalists this week, accusing them of bias in favor of Hamas. Abbas told Qatari editors-in-chief during a visit to the emirate this week that they took an unfair and inaccurate stand in favor of Hamas. "The Palestinian issue is a very important one, and no Arab accepts what's going on with Hamas," Nabil Dajani, a professor of media studies at the American University of Beirut, told The Media Line. "Cutting off life support for Palestinians in the Hamas areas is unacceptable and you cannot justify the way the people in Gaza are being treated. This makes people sympathize with Hamas, whether they are for Hamas or not." "Even people who would normally support Fatah are now supportive of Hamas," he said. "It's not a matter of being a fundamentalist but a matter of taking a human-rights position." Darjani argued that while the Arab world does not blame Fatah directly for the Gaza blockade, the party is indirectly accused of allowing its maintenance. "Fatah is flirting with Egypt and in a sense that's a sign of supporting what's happening in Gaza," he said. Egypt has come under fire for plans to construct a steel underground wall along the border that connects Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula, in order to stop the smuggling of illegal goods and weapons through tunnels. Describing Qatar's alleged media bias, Abbas cited the criticism he received in Qatari media over his role in stalling the United Nations Human Rights Council vote on the Goldstone report into last winter's Operatein Cast Lead in Gaza. When the UN vote was delayed, there were rumors that the delay was tied to Abbas' son's involvement in a Palestinian telecommunications company. Abbas was accused of thwarting the vote after Israel allegedly made the launching of the telecommunications company conditioned on such action. "The fact is that the owners of this company are Sheikh Mohamed bin Suhaim bin Hamad Al Thani and Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Saud Al Thani," Abbas told the editors-in-chief, in reference to members of Qatar's royal family. This is not the first time Palestinian Authority officials have leveled criticism at Arab media outlets. In October the official Palestinian TV, which toes the line of the government in Ramallah, accused the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera of pitting Palestinian and Arab public opinion against the PA by providing a platform for figures opposed to the government, in particular members of Hamas. Critics accused the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera of loosing its neutrality on the Fatah-Hamas conflict and becoming more of a party to the internal conflict than a commentator on it. Al-Jazeera has frequently been accused of being biased and Fatah activists have tried a few times to have Al-Jazeera's offices in Ramallah closed.