Israeli Journalists Helping Arab Editor to Fight Closure of His Papers

The Association of Israel Journalists is urging the Interior Ministry Sunday not to shut down the Arabic daily Al-Mithak and the weekly Al-Ahd, both published in East Jerusalem. Their action is in response to an appeal for help by the editor of Al-Mithak, Mahmoud Khatib. It is the first time an Arab editor has asked Israeli colleagues for assistance. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel is also calling on the Interior Ministry to allow both publications to continue.

The Jerusalem District Commissioner, who is an official of the Interior Ministry, notified both last week that he was considering closing them down on grounds that they were “operated and directed” by a terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Al-Mithak has been identified with extremist elements of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The Civil Rights Association argued that closure would “violate the freedom of expression of the entire Israeli press.” It pointed out that the law and censorship regulations are sufficient to prevent security violations.

The military censorship in fact confirmed Sunday that it has been cracking down on Arabic publications in East Jerusalem. It was responding to complaints by Arab editors. According to the censors, there has been a growing incidence of incitement in the Arabic press against Israel and also against Jordan.

The editors complained that the censors delete material critical of Jordan for shutting down the PLO offices in Amman last week. In the past few days, the Israeli authorities banned distribution of East Jerusalem newspapers in the administered territories.

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