Palestinians Turn to Israel for World Cup Soccer Fix

Poor signal quality from Arab broadcasters have forced West Bank residents to watch games on Israeli channels.

The Palestinian Authority may be struggling hard to develop the trappings of a national state – but West Bank residents are still forced to turn to Israeli television stations to enjoy the World Cup.

Palestinian television has no rights to broadcast the soccer tournament. These belong exclusively to satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera, which is transmitting footage from South Africa across the entire Arab world.

A Palestinian smokes as he watches the opening game of the World Cup, June 11, 2010

Yet Palestinians viewers have encountered so much interference in signals from the Qatar-based station that they have been turning to Israeli channels instead.

According to a report by the AFP new agency, Al-Jazeera claims its broadcast of the opening game was deliberately jammed on the Egypt-based Nilesat and Saudi-based Arabsat satellite networks.

Nilesat said it was investigating the source of the jamming.

A Palestinian technician told AFP that since the World Cup kicked off on June 11 he had been inundated with requests to install Israeli receivers – already popular with poorer West Bank residents but until now eschewed by richer Palestinians who can afford subscriptions to Arab networks.

An official at the Palestinian Authority's Palestine TV network said that he was unconcerned by the popularity of Israeli stations, which he expected to dip sharply after the final World Cup match on July 11.