Jerusalem: The Palestinian Authority has expelled Israeli journalists who came to the historic Biblical town of Bethlehem to cover Christmas celebrations, a step lauded by their Palestinian counterparts who protested to stop them from entering Palestinian-controlled territories.
The PA Ministry of Information said that the decision was taken at the request of Palestinian journalists, who protested against the presence of their Israeli colleagues at Manger Square in Bethlehem.
Palestinian journalists praised the PA police for ordering the Israelis to leave the city, the local daily Jerusalem Post reported.
The Israeli journalists who were asked to leave Bethlehem work for Ha`aretz, i-24 News, Channel 1 and Arutz Sheva, the ministry said.
Omar Nazzal, a senior representative of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate told Ramallah-based Wattan TV that the move was justified in wake of "restrictions" Israel imposed on Palestinian journalists.
A large group of Palestinian journalists had launched a campaign early this year to ban Israeli reporters from entering PA controlled territories in the West Bank.
The Palestinian journalists have defended their campaign by arguing that the ban was aimed at "isolating the Israeli media, which is contributing to misinformation and relaying a false and harmful image of the Palestinian reality."
PA Deputy Minister of Information Mahmoud Khalifa accused Israel of imposing restrictions on the work of Palestinian and international journalists in the West Bank.
"Israel does not honour international laws and conventions calling for the protection of journalists," Khalifa said adding, "Israeli reporters have become accustomed to entering the State of Palestine without permission.