Palestinian Authority obstructs 59 Palestinian sites, social networks channels important of Abbas – Palestinians – Haaretz.com
A court in Ramallah earlier this week purchased the blocking of 59 Palestinian websites, blog sites and Facebook pages that oppose the Palestinian Authority and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The decision was made at the demand of the Palestinian prosecution, but it is widely presumed that senior PA officials were behind the move. The prosecution, in its petition to the court, argued that the sites disseminate hazardous material about the PA and its authorities and are most likely to be utilized to prompt lawlessness.
Some of the blocked sites are incredibly popular amongst Palestinians and in the rest of the Arab world. Some report critically on developments in the West Bank and Gaza, while others are related to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the camp of Mohammed Dahlan, one of Abbas’ prominent challengers. The list includes the Arab48 site, which is based in Haifa and is recognized with the Balad celebration.
Social media and traditional media outlets criticized the PA’s choice to seek to block the Palestinian websites, even while it does not try to block Israeli sites. The Palestinian Press Association explained the decision as a “black day for Palestinian journalism and a deadly blow to freedom of expression in the Palestinian arena.” The association noted that the choice was based on an order released by Abbas in 2017, and that at the time it had warned the Palestinian government of the implications for freedom of expression and journalism.
The association included that the demand by the prosecution breached an agreement with the federal government whereby Palestinian media might operate easily, with freedom of expression protected.
A Palestinian federal government representative said Tuesday that the federal government is dedicated to the legal system and its choices, but also to international contracts and conventions that secure freedom of expression. The spokesman said the government was contacting the prosecution and the court to reassess the decision.
Journalism association and human rights groups in the West Bank have appealed the decision. On Tuesday a court started hearing the appeal, and proceedings will continue Wednesday. The PA hasn’t yet executed the judgment, and an official Palestinian source told Haaretz that the federal government believes it will be struck down by a greater court. Palestinian legal sources likewise told Haaretz that there’s a likelihood the appeal will be accepted.
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