On Wednesday, Israel’s government agency responsible for assigning journalist credentials revoked the press card of a senior correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic, citing the reporter as a member of the Palestinian “resistance.” Elias Karram, 40, from Nazareth, has worked for Al Jazeera in Israel as a television journalist since 2011. According to a statement from the Israeli press office, the final status of Karram’s press card will be decided by a hearing that is underway.
A statement released by Israel’s press office today said Karram had made the offending comments during a 2016 interview with the Turkish-owned Arabic language service network Dar al-Iman:
“In a 26 May 2016 interview with the Muslim Brotherhood television channel, “Dar al-Iman”, the contents of which were delivered to the GPO this week, along with additional material, by Communications Minister Ayoob Kara and Ofir Gendelman, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman for the Arab Media, Karram said (inter alia): “As a Palestinian journalist in an occupied area or in a conflict zone, media work is an integral part of the resistance and its educational political activity. The journalist fulfills his role in the opposition with the pen, voice or camera because he is part of this people and he carries out resistance in his unique way.”
These remarks call into question the ability of Karram, the representative of a foreign network, to cover – as a professional journalist – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which, according to his own words, he is taking an active part.
It should be noted that Communications Minister Kara recently contacted GPO Director Chen and requested that the press cards of Al Jazeera personnel in Israel be revoked on the grounds that the network was inciting and agitating to violence in a way that harmed the security of the state.”
The director of Israel’s government press office, Nitzan Chen, added in the same statement:
“The whole issue of GPO cards is bound up with journalist’s rules of ethics and universal fairness regarding news reporting. It would seem that an Al Jazeera correspondent, who serves as a senior field correspondent vis-à-vis news and security events, made the sharp and far-reaching comment that, ‘Any Palestinian journalist should see himself as an integral part of the resistance to the occupation.’ Whoever takes an active part in a political struggle should do so in the framework of the law, but without press credentials from the State of Israel.”
One week ago Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Al Jazeera would face a ban in Israel and announced on social media that his minister of communication, Ayoub Kara, “took several practical steps today to stop the actions of incitement by Al Jazeera in Israel.”
In a press conference earlier that day, Kara accused Al Jazeera of “incitement” and rousing up violence that coincided with a recent uptick in tensions as Israel sought to make metal detectors a permanent fixture outside of the complex in Jerusalem where the al-Aqsa mosque is situated. Kara also said Israel was “delusional” for not ousting Al Jazeera earlier, claiming the broadcaster is “a tool of the Islamic State.”
With suspended credentials, Karram will no longer be allowed to legally work inside closed military zones in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, and enter Area A of the West Bank as well as attend official government events and buildings.