Feb. 4 2010 – A court belonging to the illegal Hamas government decided today, Thursday, Feb. 3 2010, to suspend the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) elections which were slated for Friday Feb. 5 2010. The Court claimed that the postponement is due lawsuits which were filed against the PJS. According to legal sources in Gaza Supreme Court of the Hamas government, they stated that the court decided to suspend the PJS elections after several groups of journalist filed complaints against the PJS, which had refused to register new journalists as members.
Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinian journalists in Gaza protested yesterday against the illegal procedures adopted by the PJS Council, which refused the inclusion of new members in the PJS on political grounds.
For its part, the Palestinian NGO Network launched an initiative to find a compromise to resolve the dispute surrounding the PJS elections. The NGO initiative requires postponing the elections for a maximum period of two months, and the elections to be conducted after this period in accordance with the rules which had been enacted for the PJS elections in 1999. During the postponing period of the two months, a selection of a professional committee must work on the examination of the old PJS memberships and the acceptation of new members.
The former board member of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate rejected Friday’s scheduled elections as illegitimate. Zakaria AL-Telmes stated that “no agreement was arranged between the syndicate’s board concerning the announcement that the vote would take place on 5 February.”
He added that “board members have traditionally signed the minutes at a special meeting for approving the date, but it didn’t happen.”
Al-Telmes said that not only are journalists unaware of the candidates for the leading Palestinian press union’s top body, “the board members themselves don’t even know, in most cases, who the other members of the board are.” He urged the union’s leadership to come to an agreement before elections.
Al-Telmes stated that a political group which is not interested in the legal, moral or value system of Journalism is behind the PJS elections.
As part of the controversy over the elections of the PJS, a protest statement signed by independent journalists, among them independent women journalists, the Southern Media Forum, the Democratic Gathering Journalists, the Palestinian Journalists Gathering and the Palestinian Media Forum. In their protest statement, these journalists threatened to bring a court case against the PJS for committing violations of the law which threaten the fairness of the elections of the PJS.
The statement demanded that new journalists be granted membership in PJS. The statement also called for supervision of the elections by an independent commission, so that they be conducted in accordance with the principle of proportional representation, and they also demanded the allocation of a quota for women journalists in the administrative council of the PJS and its committees. The statement called for depolitization of the PJS and to draft a new statute which should be discussed and approved by the general assembly of the syndicate.
Meanwhile, Abed Allah Siam, the secretary of the central office of Fatah, called all journalists, and in particular the Fatah-affiliated journalists, to participate in Friday national elections for the PJS, which will hold its conference in the Al-Bireh hall park, formerly called the Selim Effendi hall to select the members of the new PJS council. Actually, to adopt a council imposed Fatah.