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PA asks international telecoms body to press Israel on Wataniya

Oct. 7, 2009 4:40 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 9, 2009 4:16 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The Palestinian Authority (PA) has asked the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to press Israel to release more frequencies for the mobile phone provider Wataniya.

According to Reuters the PA wants Geneva-based ITU, which defines and adopts telecoms standards, to urge Israel to release frequencies up to 4.8 MHz, warning it will sustain heavy financial losses unless it obtains them.

The ITU said in a brief statement it had received the request, according to the news agency. "ITU has asked both parties to cooperate," the body said.

The phone frequency dispute has been dragging on for more than two years. As occupying power, Israel controls the airwaves of the West Bank.

Reuters also reports that under an agreement between Israel and the PA signed in July 2008, Israel has to release 4.8 MHz, but so far it has released only 3.8 MHz.

"Unless Israel honors its commitments and assigns 4.8 MHz by 15 October 2009, the financial damage to the PA will have serious long-term repercussions," the Palestinian submission said, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Quartet Envoy Tony Blair brokered the agreement. Following this the PA awarded Wataniya Palestine a contract making it the second mobile provider after the ubiquitous Jawwal.

If the Wataniya deal falls through, the PA says it could stand to lose 354 million US dollars in licensing fees.
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