update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Abbas threatens Al Jazeera over ‘unbalanced’ coverage

The Qatari network said it will not change its editorial policy.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, May 7, 2020. Credit: Flash90.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, May 7, 2020. Credit: Flash90.

The Palestinian Authority threatened to take action against the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news outlet over “unbalanced” coverage.

P.A. Minister of Information Nabil Abu Rudaineh, who also serves as spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, sent the threat in a June 6 letter to Al Jazeera headquarters.

The letter accused Al Jazeera of a “lack of balance and failure to commit to objectivity,” and said the outlet’s reporting could “harm civil peace and the fabric of society.”

The P.A. appeared to be particularly aggrieved at the outlet’s coverage of the IDF’s recent Jenin operation. During the two-day incursion at the start of the month, the IDF dealt a blow to the city’s large-scale terrorist infrastructure.

Abu Rudaineh wrote that if the channel didn’t change its approach “we will be forced to take the necessary measures in accordance with the law of the State of Palestine.”

The P.A. has criticized Al Jazeera before for serving as a platform for Hamas, its main internal opposition. In 2001 and 2009, the P.A. closed Al Jazeera‘s Ramallah offices for coverage it disliked.

Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, dismissed the allegations in a letter posted on social media. 

Souag expressed astonishment at the letter, which “does not refer to a specific incident that could be reviewed and assessed,” but rather a “general accusation against Al Jazeera of not adhering to professional standards, an accusation that we find untrue after our review of the entire coverage of the aforementioned events.”

Al Jazeera will not change its editorial line, he said.

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