Foreign Press Group Defends Use of Palestinian Press Cards

The Foreign Press Association on Sunday rejected the Israeli government’s criticism of reporters accepting press cards issued by the Palestinian Press Office. The cards have been issued to journalists covering events in the administered territories.

Right-wing Knesset members last week sharply criticized foreign correspondents who use the cards, saying they should be thrown out of the country. Police Minister Haim Bar-Lev said he would investigate possible illegalities connected with the issuing of the cards.

The FPA responded to the government Sunday, saying that reporters had accepted the cards for their own safety. Israeli police posing as journalists and using counterfeit press credentials in the West Bank and Gaza Strip had put them in danger, the association said.

The Palestinian Press Office reportedly has issued 100 ID cards to foreign journalists.

In unrelated media news, the American owner of the East Jerusalem daily Al-Fajr is threatening to close the newspaper down.

Owner Paul Ajlouny said the paper, which is sympathetic to the Palestine Liberation Organization, is having “financial difficulties.” Ajlouny has given workers a week to come up with a rehabilitation plan before ordering the closing.

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