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Hamas spokesman accuses Al-Jazeera TV of

BBC Monitoring

text of report by London-based independent Quds Press web news agency,

["Abu-Zuhri Accuses Al-Jazeera of Using Double Standards in Dealing With Palestinian Affairs and Chief Editor Denies" - Quds Press headline]

Gaza (Palestine) -Doha, 20 November 2007 (Quds Press) - A Hamas spokesman has complained of what he called the use of double standards by Arab media regarding the severe political crisis between Fatah and Hamas.

He expressed his regret that Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel had slipped into the same double standards in terms of focusing on exposing aspects of the dispute between the two political opponents even when the issue involves family disputes that have nothing to do with political matters, while ignoring the political activities initiated by Hamas.

In his statements to Quds Press, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri also pointed out that the Arab media, including Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel, use double standards when dealing with Palestinian affairs.

He said: "Double standards are employed by the mass media w! hen dealing with domestic Palestinian affairs with no exception. They focus on all the details relating to conditions in Gaza while they ignore conditions in the West Bank. Even in dealing with the Gaza Strip, exaggeration is used in dealing with an incident at the expense of another. Unfortunately, Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel has become part of these double standards. If a problem occurs between a family and the police, the news is exaggerated and focused on and becomes a major headline in the news bulletins. However, when the PNA security apparatuses crushed a Hamas march in Hebron that took place in solidarity with the prisoners, the channel did not cover this activity despite the fact that international news agencies published pictures of the demonstration."

Abu-Zuhri considered these double standards in dealing with the domestic situation in Palestine as part of a comprehensive conspiracy that aims at presenting a distorted image of the Palestinian situation. He! said: "We in Hamas feel that there is a conspiracy to ignore the real ity of the situation in Palestine through suppressing the crimes committed by the PNA in the West Bank, while focusing on any fault in Gaza and ignoring the rest of the news. We exert arduous efforts to send the news to Al-Jazeera, for instance, but it is dealt with with coolness at times and marginalization at other times."

However, in statements to Quds Press, Al-Jazeera's chief editor Ahmad al-Shaykh denied that Al-Jazeera is part of a conspiracy to present a distorted image regarding Palestinian affairs. He said: "It is absolutely not true that we employ double standards in dealing with Palestinian affairs, and the accusations of Sami Abu-Zuhri against Al-Jazeera channel are rejected because we deal with Palestinian news as it comes in. We cannot act as spokesmen for Sami Abu-Zuhri or Hamas. We have our own editorial policy and we report what happens in Gaza and the West Bank with professionalism whether or not this angers or satisfies Hamas or Fatah," according t! o him.

Al-Shaykh also pointed out that part of Abu-Zuhri's criticisms against Al-Jazeera channel is based on personal opinion. He added: "Sami Abu-Zuhri wants us to become his spokesmen, and this is not possible. We do not deal with personal insults against President Mahmud Abbas but with political attitudes. Clearly we are not part of Hamas or Fatah but we report the available news irrespective of who is pleased or angry from both sides."

However, Al-Shaykh affirmed that the level of freedom available for those working in Gaza is far greater than that available to the journalist working in the West Bank. He said: "There is no doubt that those in Gaza are more tolerant than President Mahmud Abbas's authority in the West Bank. Proof of this is that we spoke to Ahmad Hillis, a Fatah leader in Gaza, while he was accusing Hamas and speaking with freedom. From this point of view, Hamas is more tolerant with the mass media than the PNA in the West Bank. We do not deny! this. The journalist can work in Gaza and report the news, whereas th e PNA in the West Bank largely hides the cases of arrests and news and prevents journalists from reporting them. But Sami Abu-Zuhri has to be rational when attacking others," he claimed.

Al-Shaykh criticized the resulting Palestinian-Palestinian relations. He said: "No doubt that the infighting in Palestine is shameful and very painful. But what can be done, this is the news and we report it with neutrality and professionalism," he claimed.

Source: Quds Press news agency, London, in Arabic 20 Nov 07



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