Friday, 27 April 2012

Palestinian minister resigns over web censorship

The communications minister of the Palestinian Authority has resigned, claiming it was trying to silence its critics and curb freedom of expression.

Mashour Abu Daqa said senior officials had ordered several opposition websites to be blocked over the past six months.

He said the moves were bad for the image of the PA in the modern world.

Security forces have also recently arrested four journalists and an activist who had criticised President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials...

...On Thursday night, Mr Abu Daqa announced he was stepping down and revealed that the PA's attorney general had ordered Palestinian internet service providers to block access to at least eight websites in the past six months.

The blocked websites - Amad, Fatah Voice, Firas Press, In Light Press, Karama Press, Kofia Press, Milad News and Palestine Beituna - were all highly critical of the leadership of Mr Abbas, and are loyal to one of his harshest opponents, Mohammed Dahlan, our correspondent says. more

Gaza's prime minister tops Hamas poll but Meshaal too remain overall leader

Ismail Haniya, the head of the Hamas government in Gaza has emerged in voting as the movement's leader there, but incumbent Khaled Meshaal is expected to retain his position as overall chief.

Voting in the coastal strip, which has been taking place over the past month, placed Haniya at the head of the Palestinian territory's 15-member political bureau ahead of Mahmud Zahar, previously considered the main leader there, party officials said on Friday on condition of anonymity.

Joining them was Imad al-Alami, who served on the movement's political bureau at its headquarters in Syria, before leaving the violence-ridden country and returning to his Gaza home in February after an absence of 23 years.

Ahmad Jaabari and Marwan Issa, two militant leaders from Hamas's armed Ezzeddine al-Qassam Brigades, were also named to the Gaza bureau along with Yehia Sinwar and Rawhi Mushtaha, who were among 1,027 prisoners freed by Israel in October in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The Gaza Strip is one of four constituencies taking part in secretive Hamas internal voting which is intended to conclude in mid-May with the naming of a central political bureau for the movement.

Ballots are also being cast in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and among Hamas members held in Israeli jails. Those outside the Palestinian territories are also being polled, officials say, adding that the only realistic prospects for head of the top political body are Meshaal and his deputy, Mussa Abu Marzuk. more