JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli police on Friday detained four journalists from the Palestinian Authority’s official television station in Jerusalem, drawing protest from Palestinians who say their activities in the holy city are increasingly restricted.
The Palestine TV crew was filming a talk show outside of Jerusalem’s walled Old City when Israeli officers detained them and took their equipment, the Authority’s Wafa news service said.
The journalists with the daily “Good Morning Jerusalem” programme were held for four hours at a police station in Jerusalem and later released, said Mohammad Barghouti, Palestine TV’s general manager for news.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said: “The journalists were detained in connection with illegal activity by (the) Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem.”
Israel forbids any official activity in Jerusalem by the Western-backed PA, saying it breaches Israel’s sovereignty over the city and violates interim peace agreements.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, as capital of a future state. Israel annexed the area after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East war and says the entire city is its eternal and indivisible capital.
In November, Israel ordered the closure of Palestine TV’s Jerusalem office for six months on the grounds that it was planning to stage activities for the PA, which exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank adjacent to Jerusalem.
An office of the PA’s education ministry in Jerusalem was also given a six-month closure notice in November, which Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said at the time was “part of a firm policy against any attempt by the (PA) to violate our sovereignty in the capital”.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the journalists’ detention as “part of the Israeli government’s scheme to entrench Israeli control over the occupied city of Jerusalem and its holy sites.”
The last round of peace talks between the two sides broke down in 2014. Palestinians have boycotted U.S. President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts, partly over his recognition in 2017 of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
(Reporting by Rami Ayyub and Suheir Sheikh in Jerusalem)