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IFJ protests bar on union leader, calls on authorities to "Open Door to Dialogue"

(IFJ/IFEX) - 8 September 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on Israel to permit new dialogue in Palestine by granting permission for a global journalists' leader to travel to the region to take part in an international mission.

Younes M'Jahed, the Senior Vice-President of the IFJ and General Secretary of the Federation's affiliate in Morocco, is due to join a delegation of IFJ leaders from Cyprus, Italy, Norway and including the IFJ President, Jim Boumelha, which plans to travel to the Palestinian territories in the coming days to investigate the problems facing Palestinian journalists. But his application for permission to travel has been turned down by Israeli authorities, prompting a protest by the Palestine Journalists' Syndicate (PJS). Echoing the PJS concerns, the IFJ is writing to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him to intervene to allow Mr. M'Jahed to travel.

"Even if this application was unavoidably late, it would be unreasonable of Israel not to allow an opportunity for dialogue and investigation of the conditions facing journalists in Palestine," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Our aim is to improve relations between all journalists in the region and just as leaders are sitting down in Washington to break years of deadlock, we wish to seize an opportunity for a renewal of contacts in the world of journalism."

White said he hoped that the authorities will urgently reconsider their decision and send a signal that they are ready to "open the door to dialogue". The IFJ has also asked its affiliate in Israel, the National Federation of Israeli Journalists, to assist in their appeal.

"The application was delayed, but that is no excuse," said White. "This is the time for positive steps towards open and transparent discussions. We need to break down bureaucratic barriers."

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