The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says that Palestinian journalists facing the first free elections for a new leadership in almost ten years should unite around an election process that is fair, transparent and inclusive.
At the same time, the IFJ has condemned allegations of financial misconduct that are based on rumour and speculation.
“Journalists should stick to the facts,” Aidan White told a group of journalists’ leaders in Ramallah in the West Bank where next week the IFJ will launch its Ethical Journalism Initiative (EJI) for journalists in the region.
“There have been rumours of embezzlement and absurd amounts quoted. Journalists should not get involved in character assassination, but stick to facts they can verify.”
He was speaking after the President of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), Naim Toubassi, had been called in for an examination over financial dealings of the union by the Palestine Authority.
“It is important that journalists don’t become involved in unfair speculation. There needs to be openness and full reporting of financial affairs, but claims of sums of over a million going astray are simply ridiculous, certainly as far as the IFJ is concerned.”
The IFJ says that different groups competing for prominence in the run-up to elections for a new leadership of the union should work together, particularly to agree a list of journalists and members who are entitled to vote.
“The holding of new elections and an inclusive congress will be a historic moment for renewal of the PJS and we urge everyone to work together to make sure it is a transparent and fair process,” he said.
Next week the IFJ will hold meetings of journalists in the West Bank and Gaza around the EJI campaign which supports standards in media and urges journalists to avoid becoming embroiled in political intrigue.
“In a world of media-savvy politics that is difficult enough, but in the West Bank and Gaza it is a serious challenge given the record of Palestinian political groups on all sides to try to pressure the media for their own ends,” said White.
The IFJ will also support the legal action taken by a group of Palestinian journalists in East Jerusalem against the Israeli police which banned them from covering news in the vicinity of Al Aqsa Mosque.