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PA: Israel seizing broadcast frequencies

Feb. 29, 2012 1:14 P.M. (Updated: March 2, 2012 10:58 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (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.

Zuheiri said the unilateral move should not have been made by the Israeli military, which is not authorized to seize transmitters or intervene in communications issues but did so anyway.

“The Israeli claims that the stations’ transmission interrupts aircraft communication at Ben Gurion airport are false because the airport’s range is very different from the range used by TV stations.

"Civil aviation waves, according to international parameters, start at 120 megahertz, while TV frequencies start at above 500 megahertz,” Zuheiri explained.

He added that the two stations Israeli forces raided and confiscated their transmitters had been registered at the International Telecommunication Union, clear evidence that the action was illegal and violated international treaties.

His ministry was never notified that these two stations caused interruptions, Zuheiri said, nor did Israel's communications ministry inform the Palestinian side of its plans to shut the stations down.

The official said he could not rule out the possibility that Wednesday's raids are the beginning of a wide-scale campaign against other Palestinian stations including PA stations.

Asked about defensive steps by the PA, Zuheiri said an emergency complaint would be sent immediately to the International Telecommunication Union, and another to the Israeli ministry of communication.

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