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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 February, 2005, 15:49 GMT
The Palestinian press
Palestinian press graphic - Gaza skyline

The 3.7m Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are served by three daily newspapers and a number of weeklies.

Two of the three dailies describe themselves as independent, while the third is owned largely by the Palestinian National Authority. Many of the weeklies are affiliated to specific political organisations, such as Hamas or the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine).

Newspapers are not particularly widely read, with around a third of Palestinians saying they hardly ever pick up a paper. Media analysts say circulation has also dropped considerably since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising (intifada) against Israel in 2000.

Palestinian law lays down freedom of the press and of opinion, but in practice newspapers have for many years exercised self-censorship, refraining from criticism of high-profile political figures. This has been less true in recent months, as some sections of the press have become more vocal in their calls for reform. However, it is still virtually unknown for specific figures to be named or accused of anything unfavourable.

Newspapers carry daily commentaries, but a significant proportion of their factual output is reproduced from the domestic news agency Wafa and international agencies.

Journalists in the Palestinian territories operate under difficult security conditions. Reporters Without Borders said in its 2004 report that they experience obstruction in their work owing to the Israeli presence.

Since the beginning of the intifada, several online magazines have sprung up, some run by political parties, some published by independents. Unlike many Arab countries, Palestinians also enjoy uncensored access to the internet. The population relies heavily on pan-Arab TV stations to receive its news, and satellite dishes are commonplace.

Main papers

Al-Quds

Circulation: 20,000 (est.)
Based: Jerusalem
Founded: 1951
Owner: Abu-Zalaf family

The independent Al-Quds - the Arabic name for Jerusalem - is the largest-circulation daily in the Palestinian territories and the only one that predates the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority. Without strong official connections, it has traditionally been the most cautious and publishes many reports sourced from domestic and international news agencies. In recent times though, it has expanded its coverage to include an increasing number of reports by its own correspondents. Printed mainly in black and white, the paper has a more traditional feel than the other two Palestinian dailies, which use more colour in their layouts. It is the only daily subject to Israeli censorship, owing to its location in East Jerusalem. The paper is subject to Israel's press regulations, but these seem to be largely unenforced.


Al-Ayyam

Circulation: 10,000 (est.)
Based: Ramallah
Founded: 1995
Owner: Al-Ayyam Association

Al-Ayyam, meaning 'Days', is a daily newspaper with the second-largest circulation in the territories. It is directed at a discerning readership of intellectuals, containing more in-depth exclusive reports than the other two main dailies, and including a broad range of commentary. While nominally an independent paper, its chief editor was a long-time adviser to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Its printing press relies heavily for revenue on securing contracts from the Palestinian National Authority to print textbooks. The PNA also has some shares in the paper. Polls suggest the paper has proved relatively more popular in the Gaza Strip than in the West Bank.


Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

Circulation: 5,000 (est.)
Based: Ramallah
Founded: 1995
Owner: Palestinian National Authority

Al-Hayat al-Jadidah is a semi-official newspaper, since the PNA owns a majority stake in the company and at least some of its staff are PNA employees. Its name means 'New Life' in Arabic. Former Information Minister Nabil Amr was a chief founder and director of the paper and it is now distributed for free among Palestinian security personnel. It has the smallest circulation of the three dailies and polls show it is favoured more in the Gaza Strip than in the West Bank.


BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.





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