Palestinian government continues its judiciary takeover and censors media

The Palestinian government continues its judiciary take-over and censors opposition media
2 min read
15 June, 2017
The Palestinian judges' club warned on Thursday that planned changes to the law would put the independence of the judicial branch at risk.
Mahmoud Abbas has been criticised for his strongman, isolationist politics [Getty]

The Palestinian ruling government was accused of over-reaching its authority on Thursday, following major attacks against the country's judiciary and free media.

The head of the Palestinian Judges Association warned that planned changes to the law would "end the independence of the judiciary" on the same day that 11 news websites were censored and banned.

"These amendments will undermine the separation of the three pillars of government," said Osama al-Kilani.

"They attempt to undermine the independence and freedom of the judiciary and that would open the door to the executive branch interfering in our affairs."

The proposed amendments to the Judicial Authority Act No. 1 of 2002 have not been passed yet, but Kilani warned they could lead to the executive branch meddling in the judiciary's affairs.

Hours later, an official at the PA attorney general's office reported that a number of news sites were blocked because they were in "violation of the rules of publications".

Media laws in Palestine forbids defamation, but the majority of the news websites on the proscribed list were connected to the Palestinian president's perceived enemies.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ban had nothing to do with the websites' connections to the exiled Gazan MP, Mohammad Dahlan, or the political party Hamas.

Hassan Asfour, the editor of one banned Jordanian news site Amad said the censorship was due to its "bold reporting" on the Palestinian government's "dirty deals".