Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Abbas surprise order 

I wonder what brought this on:

Interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has told government run television and radio stations to stop broadcasting 'inflammatory' material inciting hatred against Israel.

Mr Abbas has asked the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation to review programmes before they are aired.
Certainly a step in the right direction, but it might not really change anything:

Radwan Abu Ayyash, head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, said that Mr Abbas has asked them to "ensure that programmes do not include material that might be interpreted as incitement."

"In fact we do not incite," said Mr Ayyash, "We report what Israel commits against the Palestinian people."
The key thing to watch for is whether Abbas and his administration step in to enforce his order if the PBC doesn't change its ways. If he does exert some real pressure, it will also be interesting to see the reaction on the Palestinian street. The Palestinian political environment is a fractious and contentious one, and this kind of action on the part of Abbas could lead to a backlash, in the form of rising popularity and influence for extremists like Hamas.

On the other hand, if this order sticks without a serious backlash, it could signal a tilt toward moderation within the Palestinian Authority. This story bears watching in the days and weeks to come.
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