TEL AVIV (Apr. 24)
Palestinians in the administered territories have recently been demanding that foreign correspondents covering the West Bank and the Gaza Strip obtain press cards issued by what they call the “Palestinian Press Office,” Israel Radio reported Monday.
Foreign correspondents have been asked to submit photographs and personal details to local Arab correspondents in the territories. They, in turn, convey the material to the “Palestinian Press Office,” which is said to be situated in Jerusalem.
The radio said that correspondents who covered the recent border police raid in the West Bank village of Nahalin were stopped by local residents and required to present “Palestinian Press Office” press cards. Those who did not have them were told to obtain them quickly so that they would not be thrown out of the area.
“Numerous foreign correspondents have since obtained the press card,” Israel Radio reported.
Police Minister Haim Bar-Lev said the police would investigate whether any illegalities had occurred and, if so, measures would be taken. He said the “Palestinian Press Office” was probably operating out of East Jerusalem.
Right-wing Knesset members reacted immediately to the report, saying that any foreign correspondent accepting or using a West Bank press card should be thrown out of the country.
Robert Slater, chairman of the Foreign Press Association in Israel, told a television interviewer that there was nothing new in the disclosure.
He said a small number of FPA members have applied for and received the Arab press cards, but most have expressed satisfaction with the press identification cards issued by their own media or the official cards issued by Israel’s Government Press Office.
Slater speculated that since the police and some West Bank settlers began using bogus press cards a few weeks ago, more FPA members may have obtained the Arab press cards to prevent molestation by rioters.