Haaretz reports that Israeli police and the Communications Ministry have shut down Radio Kol Hashalom in East Jerusalem. Israeli and Palestinian peace activists ran the station, which used broadcasting equipment in Ramallah and was licensed by the Palestinian authority. Kol Hashalom roughly translates as “All for Peace.”
Israeli officials insisted that the station lacked the authority to broadcast. “The Ministry carried out wireless supervisory activities in cooperation with Israel Police against a pirate radio station, just as it carries them out against all other illegal station,” an Israeli government spokesperson explained.
Kol Hashalom manager Mossi Raz calls this conclusion rather belated, since the outlet has been broadcasting for close to a decade. “Of course there is an attack here that is not only on us,” Raz told Haaretz. “If someone came to the conclusion that this isn’t legal, then after seven years there are different ways to go about it,” Raz said.
Israel’s Likud party is celebrating the closure. “Shutting down the station was carrying out justice,” declared Knesset member Danny Denon, who requested the action. “The content [broadcast by] the station were unacceptable and the fact that they were a pirate broadcast made it possible for Israel Police to close down the station.”
Indie blog +972 notes that Kol Hashalom took its authority to broadcast from the Palestinian Authority’s right to allocate frequencies based on the Oslo Accords. But this assertion and how to implement it is, like everything else in Israel/Palestine, in dispute. According to +972, the police argued:
that Israel has never granted the Palestinian Authority any frequencies, even though it was obligated to do so in the Oslo Accords. This argument suffers from two problems: Raz noted that the Accords grant the PA the right to grab their own frequencies if Israel doesn’t allocate them within a certain time frame. Secondly, and more importantly, this argument basically says that ALL Palestinians radio stations are, without exception, illegal – yet strangely enough the Israeli police only bother itself with the Jewish-Palestinian one. This can be seen as even more proof of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank: Israel claims the right to shut down a radio station licensed by the so-called autonomous PA.
This stinks to high heaven, and looks suspiciously like – as Raz says openly – a part of the continuing effort of Netanyahu and his right-wing allies to overtake the media and silence their political rivals. Raz, fearing a raid on the Jerusalem offices, ordered the broadcasts to be shut down on Thursday, and now Kol Hashalom is preparing an appeal to the High Court of Justice.