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IFJ Welcomes "Historic Opportunity" as Palestinian Journalists Agree to Hold Congress

December 31, 2009

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has warmly welcomed the decision by the Palestine Journalists' Syndicate (PJS) yesterday to hold a Congress early in February to elect a new leadership and to rebuild the unity and solidarity of journalists across the occupied territories.

"This ground-breaking decision opens the door to an historic opportunity for Palestinian journalism," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "A united front of journalists from Gaza and the West Bank can challenge the threats posed by the Israeli occupation and will strengthen the solidarity of all Palestinian media people in defence of journalists' rights."

Leaders of the PJS have agreed to hold a Congress on February 5th and also agreed to ensure that all journalists from Gaza and the West Bank will take part, despite the restrictions on free movement imposed Israel.

The board also supported the President of the PJS Naim Toubassi, a member of the IFJ Executive Committee, who has been facing arrest by the police. The board called for court actions against him to be withdrawn. Action by the police to try to enforce an arrest warrant led to a demonstration by Toubassi supporters outside the Prime Minister's office earlier this week.

"This sort of police intimidation is unacceptable and smacks of interference in PJS affairs," said White. "The PJS President and other union leaders must be allowed to act freely in preparing the ground for the congress of the syndicate."

The board called for all court cases to be dropped in order to maintain the unity of the syndicate and to secure its future. PJS board members who had earlier been associated with court actions against Toubassi agreed to withdraw their complaints.

The IFJ says the PJS commitment to a Congress with the participation of the full board from the two parts of Palestine showed a new spirit of unity and solidarity. The board members agreed to end internal disputes within the PJS and to reaffirm the role of the syndicate as the only representative organisation of Palestinian journalists.

"The PJS is determined to confront the challenge of professional solidarity," said White. "And as the union moves forward the IFJ will give our full support. This is a great moment for Palestinian journalists. The future of press freedom and independent journalism is not guaranteed, but they will succeed if they unite under the banner of the PJS."

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: +32 2 235 2207

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