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Israeli authorities close Palestinian media centre in East Jerusalem

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the 11 May 2009 decision by the Israeli internal security ministry to shut down the Palestinian media centre that had been set up in the East Jerusalem district of Sheikh Jarah in advance of the Pope's visit.

"We urge the Israeli authorities to rescind this decision, which constitutes a violation of press freedom," Reporters Without Borders said.

The media centre was a temporary one that had been installed in a conference room of the Hotel Ambassador to provide documentation to local and foreign journalists covering the Pope's visit to the Holy Land. It had begun operating on 10 May with two news conferences in which political and religious leaders criticised Israeli policies.

The head of the media centre, Ahmad Ar-Ruweidi, said that although the centre was temporary, its closure was "illegal" and represented an "intensification of Israel's prohibition of Palestinian civil society." He added that he was seeking legal advice.

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Jerusalem on the afternoon of 11 May after visiting Jordan. His first visit to the Holy Land is to last three days. Most of the holy sites he is scheduled to visit are located in East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War and which it regards as its "eternal" capital. Its formal annexation in 1981 is not recognised by the international community.

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