In a hearing, held on Monday (21 August 2017), at the Government Press Office, in Jerusalem, Al-Jazeera journalist Elias Karam made it clear that, contrary to what was implied in a television interview, he did not see himself as part of the Palestinian "resistance" to the State of Israel. Following his remarks, it was decided to defer the suspension of his GPO card for six months, during which his press reports will be monitored.
Government Press Office Director Nitzan Chen has decided to suspend his decision on revoking the GPO card of local Al Jazeera correspondent, Elias Karam, based on the findings of the August 21 hearing, as well as other checks conducted in recent days, including in coordination with the security agencies.
Karam has been summoned to a hearing at the Government Press Office pursuant to comments he made in a television interview that "journalistic work is an integral part of the Palestinian resistance" (full interview here) and the concern that it raised that it was inconsistent with the professional work of a news correspondent based on the GPO rules.
In response to questions from the GPO in the matter, Mr. Karam clarified his statement thus:
• In an interview with the Muslim Brotherhood television station, Dar al-Iman, he was asked about Palestinian journalists in general and not about himself. Therefore, what he said about journalism in the service of the resistance does not apply to him, since he is not a correspondent in "the territories" and 90% of his work is carried out in the State of Israel.
• He had no intention of supporting or expressing sympathy for armed resistance. The "resistance" he spoke of was not violent, but rather through the pen, the word and the camera. According to him, "the resistance means only media exposure to the reality of the Palestinian people living under occupation. I did not adopt, call for or incite to resistance of any kind."
• In his professional work as a news reporter, he testifies to have adopted a "golden rule", according to which "one should not mix opinion with reporting," and thus he conducts himself as a journalist. He also stressed that he does not see his role as a journalist in taking any position, either for or against one resistance or another, and advocates "completely objective reporting, presenting reality as it is without interfering in it or without being part of it or influencing it."
• In his view, the "resistance" is to the occupation of Judea and Samaria and not to the very existence of the State of Israel.
In light of his unequivocal remarks, the Government Press Office has decided not to immediately revoke Karam's GPO card, and in the next six months to monitor his reports in Al-Jazeera in order to ensure that his clear statements are reflected in his actual journalistic work and were not mere words.
GPO Director Nitzan Chen: "Freedom of the press is one of the cornerstones of the Government Press Office, but we will not accept a situation in which an official certification issued by the State of Israel will serve as a tool for those who exploit it for public struggle against the country. Unfortunately, there have been reports lately, on Al Jazeera television network, which do not meet factual, public and professional standards.
"In the coming months, the GPO will monitor the network's reports in Israel, in Arabic and in English, and will not hesitate, after consultation with legal and security agencies, to draw necessary conclusions."