Adalah Files Petition to Supreme Court to Reinstate Press Credentials of Palestinian Journalist


On 5 April 2002, Adalah filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of Layla Odeh, a Palestinian journalist working for Abu Dhabi Television, and I'lam Media Center for Palestinian Society in Israel, against Mr. Daniel Siman, Director of the Government Press Office (GPO). The petition seeks the reinstatement of Ms. Odeh's press credentials, revoked on 2 April 2002. Adalah further requested that the GPO return Ms. Odeh's press card to her while the Court considers the petition. The GPO alleged that Ms. Odeh's press credentials were revoked because Abu Dhabi Television is broadcasting false information and is inciting against Israel. 

In the petition, Adalah, by Staff Attorney Suhad Bishara, argued that the decision to revoke Ms. Odeh's press credentials violates freedoms of the press, speech and information, as well as freedom of occupation (employment). Moreover, it violates Ms. Odeh's right to due process, because she was not granted a hearing prior to the revocation of her press credentials. 

Adalah noted in the petition that the GPO's decision is one of many issued by the GPO imposing restrictions on journalists' coverage of the violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). In addition to revoking press credentials, the GPO, the Israeli army and the Ministry of Interior have also deported journalists, refused to issue press cards to Palestinian journalists, and detained and denied access to journalists to the OPT. Adalah also intervened on behalf of Mr. Jasim al-Azawi, an Arab-American reporter with Abu Dhabi Television; however, he was expelled to Jordan on 4 April 2002. 

Israeli government restrictions on journalists attempt to cover the re-occupation of the OPT have also provoked international condemnation. In a recent letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the International Federation of Journalists asked that Mr. Sharon take steps to prevent such attacks on the freedom of journalists. A statement signed by the International Press Institute and six other media groups demanded that Israeli officials "desist from public attacks on the foreign press in which irresponsible generalizations have been employed to criticize the way we conduct our business. They only undermine the freedom of the press and endanger journalists." 

No hearing on the petition has yet been scheduled by the Supreme Court.