Jericho is celebrating its 10,000 birthday this year, but Israeli journalists and foreign journalists coming through an Israeli organization have been told they are not welcome to visit the oldest city in the world in covering the anniversary.
That message was transmitted by Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib, who abruptly cancelled a scheduled tour of Jericho for local and foreign journalists that was organized by MediaCentral, a journalist services center located in Jerusalem.
According to MediaCentral, Khatib stated that “journalists coming through an Israeli organization are not welcome” in Jericho, even though the group’s visit had previously been coordinated with the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and both the mayor and governor of Jericho.
MediaCentral director Aryeh Green said in response, “In four years of providing professional, credible services to the foreign press based in or visiting Israel and the PA, I am concerned and appalled that a representative of the Palestinian Authority would lay down such an exclusionary and divisive policy.”
Green expressed concern that Khatib’s decision marked “a new and worrying step in the hardening of a Palestinian anti-Israel stance,” or perhaps was “a reflection of mounting restrictions on freedom of the press in the Palestinian areas.”