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Palestine 48 news conference
Netanyahu seeks to shut down Palestine 48 TV station
Prime minister instructs Communications Ministry to use all means available in order to shut down PA-funded TV station; Nazareth-based station aims to give voice to Israeli Arabs.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the position of communications minister, instructed the director-general of the Communications Ministry to work to shut down a new TV station called "Palestine '48," only hours before the Palestinian Authority-funded station is to go online on Thursday.

 

  

Palestinian Communications Minister Riad Hassan said in response: "Neither Netanyahu or his radical right-wing government can shut down the station."

 

Netanyahu instructed the Communications Ministry and its enforcement branches to begin an immediate assessment of the Nazareth-based station's legality.

 

The prime minister ordered the ministry to take any and all action within its purview, both criminal and bureaucratic, to stop the broadcasts. One of the main elements of the ministry's investigation will be the legality of the Palestinian Authorities' funding of the station.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo:George Ginsburg)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo:George Ginsburg)

 

"The prime minister will only be able to shut us down if he comes to Ramallah with his forces and occupies the Communications Ministry building and destroys our equipment. We are acting according to law, and are not physically inside of Israel, but are paying for services of licensed companies," Hassan said. "We don't have an office or station in Israel, and not even one clerk. If Netanyahu's government is going against us using the law, then it will lose, and if they try by force, then we will have an appropriate response." 

 

The channel, which airs on Palestinian television, enlists the services of a production company in northern Israel, and its broadcasts will be received via satellite dishes, which are popular among the Arab sector.

 

"We will provide a stage for the other side as well, including right wing government ministers," Hassan said at a press conference.

 

"The point is to give the Arabs of '48 a stage to tell the Arab world all the difficulties they undergo both culturally and financially," he said. "The Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas will support this station. We are even weighing a live streaming service within the Green Line. This is not an attempt to undermine the law in Israel," he went on to say.

 

The celebratory press conference
The celebratory press conference

 

According to Hassan, talks of establishing the station began over a year ago. "We turned to Arab MKs, and media personalities, as well as Arab authors and other officials, and spoke to them about the station.

 

"They all praised the idea. It's a chance to lead with stories about '48 Arabs on all matters. We want everyone to get to know them and their lives," he said.

 

According to the plan, outside companies will offer and create content from the Galilee, the Negev, and the Triangle Area. The content will be passed to a broadcast room in Ramallah and then sent out through satellite signals.

 

The first experimental broadcast will be on the first day of Ramadan on Thursday, and the broadcasts will slowly expand. The station will initially broadcast Ramadan-based content and will eventually have political reports, stories on the difficulties of the Arab sector in Israel and the unrecognized villages in the Negev, as well as reports on house demolitions.

 

One of the new station's writers praised its establishment, however predicted trouble ahead with Israel's reaction. "I hope that the Israeli government doesn't close the station, and that it will support it. We don't want them to attack the station like they did the Al-Midan theater in Haifa," he said.

 

"The station is necessary because we haven't been able to send our message out to the Arab world, like Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Egypt. It's our chance to speak with the world using free expression, so other people get to know us and our views," the writer said.

 

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