Nitzan Chen
Nitzan Chen Eliran Aharon

Government Press Office (GPO) Director Nitzan Chen decided to defer his decision to revoke Al Jazeera journalist Elias Karam's license.

Chen's decision is based on a hearing which was held over the past several days. The hearing included testimony from security personnel.

Karam was ordered to attend a hearing held in GPO's offices, after he gave a television interview and said that "journalism is an integral part of the resistance against Israel." This statement was considered not to be in line with Karam's work as a journalist, or with GPO's guidelines.

According to Karam, during his interview with the Muslim Brotherhood's TV station, he was asked a general question about Palestinian Arab journalists. This question was not specific to himself, and he provided an answer which applies to Palestinian Authority journalists, but not to himself. Karam also noted that 90% of his work is in Israel, and not connected to the PA.

Karam also claimed that he had no intention of supporting or expressing support for armed "resistance." The "resistance" he referred to was resistance by pen, word, and camera.

According ot Karam, "The most significant resistance is media exposure, to show that the Palestinian nation lives under occupation. I did not adopt, I did not read, and I did not incite, to any resistance of any kind against Israel."

He also said he lives by journalist's rule of not mixing opinions with news, and does not see his role as including any kind of opinion or stance, whether for or against a given topic.

Karam's job, in his own words, is "completely objective reporting which accurately displays reality, without becoming involved and without taking part or having an influence." He believes the "resistance" is about Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria, and not about Israel's right to exist.

As a result, GPO decided not to revoke Karam's license, but to track his reports on Al Jazeera for six months, to ensure his verbal commitment represents the beliefs he acts on.

"Freedom of press is one of the foundation stones upon which GPO is built," Chen said. "However, we will not make peace with a situation in which an official Israeli license is abused in order to publicly fight the State of Israel. Unfortunately, we have heard several reports recently about Al Jazeera... In the coming months, we will follow closely Al Jazeera's reports in Arabic and English, and we will not hesitate to consult with legal and security experts and to come to the obvious conclusions."