Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) on Thursday signed an order to bar the Palestinian Authority-funded Musawa television channel from operating in Israel for six months.
Erdan decided to shut down the Israel-based channel — formerly known as Palestine 48 — after learning it was operating on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, a statement said.
In July 2015, the minister ordered the Palestine 48 channel to stop operating for six months, arguing the television station was not authorized for broadcasting in Israel. The station subsequently changed its name to the Musawa Channel, Erdan said.
The Musawa Channel’s content is produced in Nazareth, in northern Israel, and sent to the West Bank city of Ramallah for editing, in an arrangement, according to Erdan, which has not been authorized. The Palestinian Authority sponsors the TV channel.
“I will not allow any harm to come to Israel’s sovereignty or give a foothold to the PA within the country,” said Erdan.
Last year, Riad Hassan, the head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, called the decision to close down Palestine 48 “illegal.” He said it would affect Israeli production companies that produce two programs for the channel in Nazareth, and warned that the companies would challenge the decision in Israel’s Supreme Court. During the channel’s inauguration conference, Hassan said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “his extremist right-wing government” couldn’t shut Palestine 48 down, and that the channel would “also give a stage to the other side, to right-wing people and ministers from the government.”
Hassan said the station’s goal was “to give a stage to the Arabs of ’48 so that they can expose to the Arab world everything they must go through, regarding their social, cultural and economic difficulties.” Hassan stated that while the Palestinian Authority intended to support the station, the channel “has no intention of violating Israel’s rule of law.”
Hassan said that talk of establishing the channel began more than a year earlier and that the plan received the blessing of Arab members of Knesset, writers and media personalities. The station aims to focus its broadcasts on the lives of Arabs living inside Israel proper and would offer content produced in the Galilee, the Negev and the Triangle, an area in northern Israel home to a sizable Arab population. Sanaa Hamud, a member of a panel that counsels the channel, said the establishment of the station was a watershed moment in the history of Israel’s Arab population.