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MADA welcomes lifting of ban on newspapers

(MADA/IFEX) - 12 January 2012 - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) welcomes the statement of the Gaza Strip's Freedoms Committee spokesperson Khaled Al-Batsh concerning an agreement made regarding the redistribution of previously banned newspapers in the West Bank and Gaza without restrictions as of 15 January 2012. He urged both sides to uphold their part of the agreement.

MADA center launched a campaign in December calling for the reprinting and redistribution of previously banned newspapers in the West Bank and Gaza, and for an end to the effects of political partisanship on Palestinian media. As part of this campaign, MADA sent official letters to President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and various other representatives within the two governments, PLO, and political parties urging their cooperation. MADA additionally called upon Palestinian parties participating in the Cairo meeting on 20 December 2011 to include on their agenda the issue of ending the division's impact on Palestinian media, particularly the reinstatement and redistribution of previously banned newspapers in the West Bank and Gaza, freely and without hindrance.

MADA has also launched a petition in cooperation with journalists and various civil society actors to campaign for journalistic freedoms. Dozens have already added their signatures. MADA has also promoted this campaign through its magazine “MADA El-E'lam”, with the back cover of the magazine featuring the tag line “permit the unconditional printing and distribution of previously banned Palestinian newspapers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.

In other news, MADA condemns the summons of "Al-Ahram Weekly" correspondent Khaled Amayreh for investigation by the Preventive Security Service in Hebron, who called Amayreh in for questioning twice. This harassment lies in clear violation of freedom of expression and adversely affects the current positive atmosphere of reconciliation.

Amayreh told MADA that he was first summoned by the Preventive Security on Thursday, 5 January 2012 after his appearance on Al-Aqsa TV, calling the Prime Minister of the Hamas government in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh a "legitimate Prime Minister." He was summoned again on 7 January 2012 to continue answering questions about his appearance on Al-Aqsa TV. He remained in custody for nearly five hours.

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