Elisheba already knows what I'm about to say: stupid Jews!
HC orders GPO to accredit Palestinian journalists
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
The High Court of Justice on Thursday upheld a ruling that requires government authorities to grant qualified Palestinian journalists accreditation to work in Israel.
The decision was a victory for foreign news organizations, many of whose Palestinian reporters have not been granted press cards needed to cover official events since Israeli-Palestinian violence broke out in September 2000.
Israel's Government Press Office, which led the effort to deny the Palestinians press credentials, argued that some pose a security threat and are biased against Israel in their coverage.
Because of the policy, Palestinians who passed stringent security checks and have permits to work in Israel were still denied access.
Government press cards are required at events that include the prime minister and other senior officials and to enter official buildings like the parliament and the foreign ministry.
On April 25, the High Court ruled against the government in a case involving several Palestinian journalists working for foreign media, declaring that Palestinian journalists who pass a security check and have permits to work in Israel must be granted accreditation.
A similar petition filed by The Associated Press has not yet been heard.
The Israeli government in May asked the court for an expanded, seven-judge panel to rule on the issue. On Thursday the court denied the appeal, ruling the Israeli authorities cannot categorically deny all Palestinian journalists press cards.
"There is no requirement of (government officials) to give a press card to every person. They are required to act reasonably, without discrimination, according to relevant considerations, while keeping in mind and noting the interests that are harmed as a result of their decisions," wrote Justice Michael Cheshin in his eight-page decision handed down Thursday.
The media organizations involved in the case praised the ruling.
"We're very pleased and look forward to the ruling being applied," said Matthew Tostevin, bureau chief of the Reuters news agency, which brought the case together with Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel.
Danny Seaman, director of the Government Press Office, said he would abide by Thursday's decision, but he emphasized that all those applying for the cards must pass security checks. He would not say how many Palestinian journalists could be affected by the decision.
The GPO has had rocky relations with local and foreign journalists in recent years. Last fall, the government suspended plans that would have required stringent security checks for all journalists, after objections from local and foreign journalists' associations.