This article confirms what we have been telling the world all along.
EU, especially France, remember this as our slap in your face.
Sep. 24, 2002
I was threatened by a Palestinian official for a story in the 'Post'
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
A senior aide to Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei was arrested Monday by Jerusalem police for allegedly making threats to Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh over a news report.
Salah Elayan, an Israeli Arab who is head of Qurei's bureau, was detained by police at his Beit Safafa home yesterday afternoon after Abu Toameh, the Post's Palestinian affairs correspondent, complained to police on Sunday night that Elayan repeatedly threatened him over the telephone.
Abu Toameh had reported that, in a telephone conversation, Qurei requested a meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to discuss the IDF's siege of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah.
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said Elayan was released on bail last night, and warned not to approach Abu Toameh or his home. Here is Abu Toameh's story, in his own words:
It all started with a news story in Sunday's Jerusalem Post about a phone conversation between Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The conversation, which dealt with the crisis in the Ramallah offices of Yasser Arafat, took place on Saturday.
One of Qurei's senior aides, Salah Elayan, phoned me to protest the story. He said it was untrue that Qurei had asked to see Sharon, and immediately started abusing me and threatening to harm me. Elayan... refused to listen to anything I had to say.
But that was not all. Even after I hung up the phone, refusing to hear the abuse and threats, he made several more calls to my mobile phone, repeating his threats and curses.
An hour later, another one of Qurei's aides, Firas Yaghi, also called to threaten, this time under the pretext that the story had "harmed Qurei's dignity and presented him as someone who is humiliating himself in front of the Israeli prime minister."
After consulting with many of my Palestinian colleagues, I was encouraged to file a complaint with the Jerusalem police. Many told me of similar threats they have also received from certain PA officials and their assistants.
Intimidation of journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not a new phenomenon but not all choose to tell the story.
Through this experience, I have once again been reminded of the risks involved in working as a newsman in the PA-controlled territories.
Journalists covering events in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are sometimes faced with life-threatening situations, especially over the past two years. That's why many of them, particularly foreign TV crews, prefer to use armored vehicles. A stray bullet fired by an over-cautious IDF soldier or a Fatah gunman is the nightmare of many journalists driving around in these territories.
But what many don't realize is that the real danger comes not from the bullets of an M-16 or AK-47 assault rifle. Rather, it comes from attempts by certain elements in the PA to intimidate journalists who are only trying to carry out their jobs in a professional manner.
There has been a slight improvement over the past few years in the PA's record regarding the freedom of the press. But there are still some in the PA who believe that a journalist's job is first to be "loyal to the cause" and then to report the truth.
It becomes even more complicated and dangerous if, like myself, you are an Arab journalist working with the foreign or Israeli media. Then you are expected to be an "obedient servant" or a "soldier" in the war of propaganda. You are expected to tell the truth only if it sounds and looks convenient and appropriate. Otherwise, you could be risking your life.
Unfortunately, some PA officials (especially those who returned from Tunis and Lebanon), have almost no understanding of the real role of the media. As far as they are concerned, the Palestinian media should not be different from those in the Arab world official organs for the rulers and their regimes.
Last night, Qurei's office claimed that he had nothing to do with the threats. Many PA officials and Palestinian journalists, who are in touch with me on a daily basis, phoned me to express their disgust at the threats. It is this kind of support that keeps me running and gives me hope that things may yet change for the better.