A new English-language radio station broadcasting news to Middle Eastern countries was launched Wednesday.
According to the managers of Middle East Eyewitness News (RAMFM 93.6), the station will serve as a platform for a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
The station, which will broadcast 24 hours a day, received its license from the Palestinian Authority and will operate from studios in Ramallah and Jerusalem.
In a press conference Tuesday, the station managers presented their plans for the near future. According to the station's founder, Isaac Kirsh, the station received its license from the PA because it was easier than obtaining a license in Israel.
"It all started with a Newsweek article in 2002 about an esteemed and well-known Palestinian businessman who was influenced by both sides," Kirsh said. "The significant thing was that Israelis saw his achievements as a way to compromise and reconcile.
"The magazine described the plans for a daycare center in Jerusalem's Old City, as one of the only joint initiatives for Israelis and Palestinians. My idea started there: A radio station which can bring both people to talk to each other.
"About five years ago, when I retired from my post as the chairman of Primedia in South Africa, I was convinced that the radio's time has arrived. It was my duty to prove it, so I invested the first funds in moving the founding process forward."
Employees from across the worldThe station will employ citizens from across the world, alongside Israeli and Palestinian citizens. The station is owned by the South African company Middle East Broadcasting Holdings.
According to Kirsh, "This is a private company owned by an international group, whose members share the vision of building the infrastructure and dialogue between the people. At this stage, the group members prefer not to be exposed."
The station's operational costs are expected to reach $2 million during the first year.
The station's broadcasts will be greatly based on the features of the South African station Talk Radio 702, which operated during the decade before the democratic elections held in 1994.
The station managers are looking into the possibility of broadcasting via satellite and internet to many countries in the world.
"We plan to turn into a an international station," Kirsh concluded, "but our first step is to build an audience of listeners in Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the same type of radio we founded in South Africa."