Netanyahu. Backed down
Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO
French vessel en route to Gaza
Photo: AFP

Israel drops threat to deport, ban journalists

Foreign Press Association in Israel protests deportation threat against journalists boarding flotilla, prompting PM's Office to introduce special procedure

The Israeli government has dropped a threat to issue lengthy deportation orders against journalists aboard a Gaza-bound flotilla.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he ordered authorities to find a formula for the reporters if they are on a flotilla that violates Israel's entry laws.



On Sunday, Israel said any journalist caught on board could face deportation and a 10-year ban from the country.


Journalists say they should be allowed to cover a legitimate news story. Israel said the media would be complicit in an illegal breach of its naval blockade of Gaza.


A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said: "The prime minister has instructed not to apply standard policy against infiltrators and those entering the country illegally. It was also decided to allow Israeli and international media outlets on Navy boats in order to enable transparency and credible reporting of the events."


On Monday, the Foreign Press Association in Israel demanded that the Government Press Office retract the threat claiming it was a serious injury to the freedom of expression.


They urged a distinction between covering an event, legitimate in itself, and actively taking part in the flotilla.


Meanwhile, former US State Department spokesman Phillip J. Crowley wrote on his Twitter account: "Israel is working against its own self-interest by pressuring journalists not to cover the Gaza flotilla, clearly a newsworthy event."


Sources close to Netanyahu said Monday he was not aware of Israel's threat to journalists and had decided to reconsider the matter after it became public. It was further noted that the Foreign Ministry had pushed for the measure.


Attila Somfalvi and Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 06.27.11, 16:50
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