Al-Jazeera office in Ramallah
Al-Jazeera office in RamallahIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority has banned the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera news network from PA-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria. PA officials announced the move Wednesday, and said the station had been banned due to “incitement and false information.”

Al-Jazeera stations in Judea and Samaria have been closed.

"Al-Jazeera has always dedicated a wide portion of its broadcasts to incitement against the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority,” the PA said in an official statement. “Despite repeated requests to be impartial in its coverage of Palestinian affairs and to be balanced when it comes to the internal Palestinian situation, the station continued to incite against the PLO and the PA. The latest false news was aired yesterday.”

While the PA did not make a specific complaint against Al-Jazeera, the decision to close down the station appears to be tied to a Tuesday report critical of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Al-Jazeera aired claims from PLO official Farouk al-Kaddoumi, who accused Abbas of being part of a plot to murder former PA head Yasser Arafat.

In the past, the PA has accused Al-Jazeera of bias in favor of Hamas since the 2007 Hamas takeover in Gaza.

Al-Jazeera directors rejected the PA's accusations, and accused the PA of harming freedom of the press. A statement from the channel said it was “stunned” by the PA's decision.

The Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem expressed “deep concern” over the decision to close down Al-Jazeera offices in Judea and Samaria. “We urge the PA to reconsider and are urgently seeking a resolution in line with the PA's stated commitment to freedom of the press,” said a statement from the organization.

The Palestinian Media Forum criticized the PA as well, and accused Abbas of restricting freedom of the press. “The Palestinian information ministry should honor Al-Jazeera for its efforts in exposing Israeli crimes,” the group said.