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Netanyahu aims to shut new ‘Palestine 48’ TV station

As communications minister, PM calls on staffers to investigate legality of Arab-language channel in Israel funded by PA

The press conference announcing the launch of the Arabic-language station, Palestine 48, in Nazareth, June 17, 2015. (screen capture: Ynet)
The press conference announcing the launch of the Arabic-language station, Palestine 48, in Nazareth, June 17, 2015. (screen capture: Ynet)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday instructed the head of the Communication Ministry to work on shutting a new Palestinian Authority-funded TV channel based in Israel, which is set to go on air on Thursday, Ynet reported.

Netanyahu – in his capacity as communications minister – ordered Director General Shlomo Filber to make the move hours after a news conference inaugurated the Arabic-language Palestine 48’s launch in Nazareth.

During the press conference, Palestinian Authority Communications Minister Riad Hassan said 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.”

The channel receives funding from the PA.

Netanyahu instructed Filber and ministry staffers to investigate the station’s legality, particularly its funding from the Palestinian Authority while operating out of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the cabinet at the weekly meeting in Jerusalem on June 14, 2015 (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the cabinet at the weekly meeting in Jerusalem on June 14, 2015 (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL)

The channel will begin broadcasting with support from a production service in the north, Ynet reported.

“The goal is 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 said at the conference. “The Palestinian Authority headed by Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] will support this station. We are even seriously considering establishing a channel that will broadcast live from inside the Green Line. There is no intention to violate Israel’s rule of law,” he said.

The station’s name refers to 1948, the year Israel was established and which Palestinians mark as the beginning of their national catastrophe, or “Nakba” in Arabic.

Hassan said that talk of establishing the channel began more than a year ago and that the plan received the blessing of Arab MKs, writers and media personalities. The station is expected to focus its broadcasts on the lives of Arabs living inside Israel proper. Production companies would offer content produced in the Galilee, the Negev and the Triangle, an area in northern Israel home to a sizable Arab population.

While the station will begin airing from Nazareth, it is expect in the future to have offices in Ramallah. The date chosen for its first broadcasts, Thursday, also marks the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Sanaa Hamud, a member of a panel which counsels the channel, said its establishment was a watershed event.

“For the first time in 67 years we will have television speaking our language, in more ways than one, enabling dialogue and discussions on the issues close to our heart and allowing us to make our voice heard by the entire world,” she said.

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