Palestinian Authority police taking to the air

Cops’ new radio station in West Bank looks to Israeli, Jordanian army broadcasts as model, anticipates Turkish funding amid delays.

PA Police 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
PA Police 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The idea of turning to the police to hear the news, catch some of the latest tunes and vent some frustration to a talk show host seems a bit odd, but Palestinians will soon be able to do this with a new radio station being set up by the local police force in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Civil Police said they plan to model their new station on the popular ones run by the neighboring Israeli and Jordanian armies. With financial support already pledged from Turkey, senior commanders say they hope to be on air by the end of the year.
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“It’s going to be called Al-Hayat, or ‘Life,’ radio station and will be run by the police officers,” Brig.-Gen. Yusef Ozriel, the head of media for the Palestinian Civil Police, told The Media Line.
“We have already sent some of our officers to Jordan to learn how it is broadcasting and operating there,” Ozriel said. “We wanted to set up a station in order to create contact between the police and the public to know their problems directly without barriers.”
“It will broadcast all kinds of things, not just news from the police, but will take into consideration what society needs and solve social, economic and security problems,” Ozriel said.
The Palestinian Civil Police is the lead law enforcement agency in the West Bank. When the idea of a police-run radio station first came up last year, Turkey quickly promised to supply the transmitter. The European Union’s Police Mission in the Palestinian territories, known as (EUPOL COPPS), also promised to help provide radio training for the cops.
“The plan is that if the Palestinian Civil Police get the equipment then we would provide the training for the PCP officers to become radio men, write scripts, speak into a microphone and basically how to run a radio station,” Julio de la Guardia, spokesman for EUOP COPPS, told The Media Line.
Some 10,000 euros ($14,000) have been earmarked for training, which would involve bringing experts from abroad and local professionals to help get the FM station on air, de la Guardia said. Ozriel said they looked to Radio Amman FM Jordan as a model since it was run by the Jordanian Army. Insiders said the PCP was also modeling itself after the very popular Israel army radio station “Galei Tzahal.” Both play contemporary music and run their own news programs.
“They have two models, Galei Tzahal and the Jordanian security forces’ Amman FM and would like to develop similar to them with news on the hour with music and entertainment,” de la Guardia said. 
But as many good ideas in the Middle East, the endeavor has been delayed by political obstacles. Initial Turkish aid fell through after diplomatic tensions between Israel and Turkey became severely strained following Israeli commandos' raid on a Turkish ship trying to run a blockade of the Gaza Strip. Later, political turmoil in Turkey prior to its national elections further delayed Turkish help.
“After the elections in Turkey, the minister of interior resigned and has been replaced. Now we have to contact them again and renew our request,” Ozriel said.
Ozriel said the Turks didn’t have to send a transmitter, but could fund the purchase of one either in the Palestinian Authority or in Israel.
But getting the transmitter, coming up with a name and training officers to run it won’t guarantee that the station will be broadcasting by the end of the year. It still must get approval from Israel, which allocates radio frequencies to the Palestinian Authority under the terms of the 1994 Oslo peace accords.
Yechiel Shavi, the spokesman of the Israel Communications Ministry, said the Palestinians had not yet submitted a request for a frequency for the new radio station.
“According to the agreements between us, they need to coordinate any radio station with Israel. Once they do and we find that it won’t interfere with existing broadcasts then we will consider it, but they haven’t yet approached us,” Shavi told The Media Line.