Top Palestinian newspaper Al Quds has come under fire for publishing an extensive interview on Monday with Israel’s new defense minister, the ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman.
Many in the Palestinian Authority and on social media accused the paper of “normalization” with Israel, as well as communicating the opinions of the “Israeli minister of occupation” to every Palestinian household. The Palestinian leadership largely considers all of Israel to be “occupied” territory.
In the interview, Lieberman shared his views on the Palestinian leadership, charging they are incapable of engaging in a meaningful peace negotiation with Israel. He also said that Jewish construction in the West Bank would continue.
Lieberman went on to say that if Hamas put an end to rocket fire on Israel, the government would consider giving Gaza free maritime access.
A particularly harsh criticism came from Nasser Abu Baker, the head of the Palestinian Association of Journalists and an official in the Palestinian Ministry of Information.
“The Association of Palestinian Journalists condemns the interview Al Quds newspaper published with the Minister of the Israeli Occupation Army Avigdor Lieberman,” he wrote on Facebook. “We believe it amounts to indecent normalization with the occupation and collaboration with it. We would like to emphasize again the association’s complete rejection of any form of normalization with the occupation, including in the media, on top of the fact that the interview was ethically deficient.”
He went on to say: “Lieberman used the interview as a platform to threaten the Palestinian people, in addition to committing to continuing settlement construction and ruining the prospects of an independent Palestinian state. After vetting the interview, to which a full page was dedicated, we believe it was unprofessionally conducted, allowing Lieberman to put across the messages of the occupation. It’s our right to suspect that the interviewers were offered personal benefits in exchange. We call on the paper to put its house in order and review this unprofessional conduct that stands in contrast to its long record.”
Social media users were equally acerbic, and attacked the paper with the hashtag #Normalization_media.
The news site 24Palestine tweeted: “Al Quds made a terrible mistake and should either apologize to our people or change its name.”
"جريدة القدس سقطت سقطة مدوية وعليها الاعتذار للشعب الفلسطيني أو تغيير اسمها" https://t.co/7inl4UfJXu
— PAL24NEWS (@Pal24news) October 23, 2016
Palestinian journalist Ahmed Yousef wrote: “Lieberman regurgitated his statements… The interviewer should have asked him why aren’t you making concessions to Hamas in exchange for information about your soldiers that it holds and claims are still alive.”
— أحمد يوسف (@ahmadyosuf89) October 24, 2016
He later tweeted: “Using our biggest newspaper, Lieberman says: I will defeat you. He did it while having a copy of the paper that interviewed him on his table. And he says that he didn’t want to embellish anything…”
— أحمد يوسف (@ahmadyosuf89) October 23, 2016
“Al Quds fools the Palestinian reader,” Mossab Qafishe wrote on Facebook. “They published the interview despite the great resistance and criticism, as if the reader is an idiot or a fool or uninformed, and can be fed with whatever idea of normalization that the paper wants to spread.”
He later added on Twitter: “How can we accept to host the leaders of the occupation army that kills us every day! Fair and balanced media doesn’t mean normalization.”
— Musab Qafesha (@musabQ1994) October 23, 2016
Hala, an activist from Jerusalem, wrote: “Despite the criticism and the mistake the paper made, it insisted on ignoring the audience and publish it, and call Lieberman defense minister to boot.”
— حلا (@halakhalayleh) October 24, 2016
“Al Quds newspaper will publish an interview with the occupation’s War Minister Avigdor Lieberman tomorrow,” the journalist Shatha
Hamad wrote the day before it went to press. “It’s a dangerous measure of normalization on the part of the Palestinian media.”
— shatha hammad (@shathahammad1) October 23, 2016
“They took normalization to a whole new level – treason!” Abed Alafo wrote. “Al Quds [Jerusalem] newspaper, that is untrue to its name, even takes pride in the fact that it’s an exclusive.”
تجاوزوا التطبيع بمراحل حتى وصلوا للخيانة !
جريدة القدس التي لا تمثل القدس ولا أهلها تتفاخر بإنفرادها بمقابلة مع… https://t.co/30iZq03W2X
— عبد العفوّ | فلسطين (@abdalafo) October 23, 2016
Journalist Ali Obeidat called for a boycott of the newspaper.
“The best comeback to Al Quds newspaper, after publishing an interview in which Lieberman threatens to defeat our people in Gaza, is to boycott it. If 10 percent of advertisers do, they will understand the extent of the crime they committed.”