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Thursday, March 01, 2012

PA deception about TV broadcast agreements

From Ma'an:

The Palestinian Authority is describing Wednesday's raids on TV networks in the occupied West Bank as the possible beginning of a "frequency war" over limited broadcasting space.

The confiscation of equipment from Watan TV and Al-Quds Educational TV deprives Palestinians of their right to have frequencies for building modern wireless communication networks, the PA says.

Ramallah Prime Minister Salam Fayyad visited one of the stations, Watan TV in Ramallah, and said the Israeli operation was "oppressive and monstrous" and violated "all international laws".

Suleiman Zuheiri, undersecretary of the Palestinian ministry of telecommunication in Ramallah, said Israel had breached Article 36 of the Oslo agreement, which requires consultations with the PA.

The accord says a joint committee of technical experts representing both sides shall be established to address any issue arising on the topic of communications, including the growing future needs of the Palestinian side.
Let's look at Article 36 (excerpted by IMRA):

ARTICLE 36
Telecommunications
...
B. Principles

1. Israel recognizes that the Palestinian side has the right to build and
operate separate and independent communication systems and infrastructures
including telecommunication networks, a television network and a radio
network.
...
5. Both sides shall refrain from any action that interferes with the
communication and broadcasting systems and infrastructures of the other
side.


Specifically, the Palestinian side shall ensure that only those frequencies
and channels specified in Schedule 5: List of Approved Frequencies (herein -
"Schedule 5") and Schedule 6: List of Approved TV Channels and the Location
of Transmitters (herein - "Schedule 6") shall be used
and that it shall not
disturb or interfere with Israeli radio communication activity, and Israel
shall ensure that there shall be no disturbance of or interference with the
said frequencies and channels.

6. A joint committee of technical experts representing both sides shall be
established to address any issue arising out of this section including the
growing future needs of the Palestinian side (hereinafter referred to as
"the Joint Technical Committee" or "JTC"). The JTC shall meet on a regular
basis for the purpose of solving all relevant problems, and as necessary in
order to solve urgent problems.

...

SCHEDULE 6
List of Approved TV Channels and the Locations of Transmitters

Pursuant to Article 36, paragraph B.5 of this Appendix:

Jericho Channel 24
Nablus (Mt. Gerizim) Channel 5
Jenin Channel 31
Ramallah Channel 25
Hebron Channel 30
Gaza Channel 31

It seems clear that the raided TV stations were broadcasting on channels that were not allowed under Oslo, and they had been for some time. I find it hard to believe that Israel never once told the PA about this since the stations started broadcasting. While we don't know all the details about the extent of communication between the two sides, it is entirely possible that in the context of the current impasse in talks the PA refused to discuss this issue or to allow a meeting of the Joint Technical Committee.

(These are the kinds of things that the clueless Israeli spokespeople should be telling the media.)

(h/t CHA)