Israeli authorities have ordered a six-month ban of “Palestine 48,” a new Palestinian television channel backed by the Palestinian government and aired from Tel Aviv which caters to Palestinian citizens of Israel.
"I will not allow for Israel's sovereignty to be harmed or for the Palestinian Authority to gain a foothold in Israeli territory," said the Israeli Public Security Minister Gilaad Erdan after signing an order on Thursday that the channel does not have the authorisation to operate within Israel.
The move against the channel was illegal and will be disputed in Israel’s Supreme Court, said the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation President Riad al-Hassan protested, along with a number of Palestinian lawmakers in Israel.
The creators of the channel say its name, Palestine 48 - or P48 - refers to the 700,000 people who were forcibly evicted from their homes in 1948, and whose descendants in recent years have balanced their identities as Israeli citizens and Palestinian nationals.
The TV aims to produce cultural and historical content for the Palestinian population residing in Israel and the occupied territories. It comes at a difficult political time, with a fracture between the Palestinian government and Hamas and the current right-wing Israeli government, P48 director Firas Abdelrahman said.
P48 aims to develop a political and cultural awareness among young Palestinians and has a staff mostly in their 20s and 30s. It uses social media to promote a national dialogue on the realities, taboos and priorities of various Palestinian communities.
"We have stories which we are just thirsting to tell, and Palestinians are also eager to discover and learn about themselves," Abdelrahman said.
The government of Palestina's support and funding of the channel is seen as a step forward in an attempt to connect with the Palestinian community in Israel, Ghassan Khatib, the former director of the Palestinian Government Media Centre said.
Israel is home to more than 1.5 million Arab Palestinians, most of whom speak Hebrew and carry Israeli citizenship but are treated as second-class citizens and given inferior access to education, healthcare and job opportunities compared with their Jewish neighbours.