In Turnaround, Israel Won't Revoke Press Card of Al Jazeera Reporter

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The Al Jazeera logo on its headquarters in Doha, Qatar, June 8, 2017.
The Al Jazeera logo on its headquarters in Doha, Qatar, June 8, 2017.Credit: Naseem Zeitoon / Reuters

The Government Press Office reversed course Wednesday and said it will not revoke the press card of Al Jazeera reporter Elias Karram, who had said in an interview last year that "journalistic work is an integral part of the resistance."

The backtrack came after Karram provided a statement saying he does not support terrorism, while the press office said security officials had recommended against a revocation.

The press office said it would be following Karram’s reports over the next six months and may revisit its decision. Karram, an Israeli who lives in Nazareth, has held a press card since 2011.

Two weeks ago the press office said it intended to revoke Karram’s journalist ID after he told TV network Dar al-Iman that his journalistic work helped contribute to Palestinian resistance to the occupation.

But at a hearing at the Government Press Office, Karram said he did not see himself as part of such resistance. He said he was referring to Palestinian journalists in general, not himself.

Elias KarramCredit: Facebook

He noted that he does not focus on the West Bank; 90 percent of his work happens inside Israel. Karram also said he had no intention of supporting an armed struggle, adding that the resistance he meant isn’t violent but through the pen and the camera.

“Resistance means solely and only media exposure to the reality that the Palestinian people live under occupation,” he said at his hearing. “I did not embrace, did not call for and did not incite to resistance of any type.”

Karram said he believes the issue is the occupation of the West Bank, not Israel’s existence.

“Freedom of the press is one of the foundations on which the GPO operates,” said the head of the Government Press Office, Nitzan Chen. “But we cannot allow an official certificate, issued by the State of Israel, to be used as a tool to publicly fight the state.”

He said some of Al Jazeera’s recent reports did not sufficiently reflect the truth.

“In the months to come, the GPO will keep track of the network’s reports in Israel, in Arabic and in English, and will not hesitate to reach the necessary conclusions after consulting with legal and security officials,” Chen said.

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