Archive for the 'Jordan' Category

Jul 20 2016

The New Arab Censors

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Project Syndicate

By Daoud Kuttab

AMMAN – The Internet has proved to be a powerful tool for overcoming media restrictions and censorship worldwide. But new restrictions on Web-based news media, such as those in Jordan, threaten to reverse the progress that the Internet has enabled.

For example, the tendency of Arab countries’ media to discuss issues concerning other countries more freely than those affecting their own has long impeded citizens’ ability to keep abreast of domestic affairs. Amin.org – the Arab world’s first censorship-free Web site, which I established in 1996 – addressed the problem by giving people access to information and commentary from foreign publications about domestic issues and events.

Four years later, at a time when Jordanians could access primarily government-owned radio stations, plus a few foreign stations, I launched AmmamNet.net, an Internet radio station that broadcast news and commentary from Jordan to the rest of the world. While Jordan later loosened official restrictions on audio-visual media, AmmanNet continued to deliver high-quality independent news and commentary.

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Jul 03 2016

Promoting enlightenment

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo

By Daoud Kuttab

Countering violent extremism has become the flavour of the month recently, but if a leaked document is accurate, the government has been following a strategy to counter extremism for at least two years.

The strategy of countering extremism states that it is based on three pillars: a correct interpretation of Islam, the need to promote a culture of democracy, and instituting values like tolerance, pluralism, respect for human rights and acceptance of the other.

It calls for a holistic, long-term, approach and not a quick fix.

But the 6,350-word document that begins with talk of tolerance, human rights and democracy reads more like a blueprint requiring action by the various executive branches of the government.

Any official reading this document will get the impression that many of the bullet points directed to different ministries are more like orders than words of advice.

The eight-page document, as published in a local newspaper, provides executive specifics on how to deal with extremism, including 49 articles expected from the Islamic Waqf Ministry, 17 articles that the Ministry of Social Affairs is supposed to implement, 15 items concerning the Ministry of Education,16 for the ministry in charge of media affairs, 10 items for the Ministry of Culture, 16 for the Interior Ministry, 10 for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 11 items to be worked on by the tribal affairs adviser. Continue Reading »

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Jun 23 2016

Abbas in Amman back to the routine

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo

By Daoud Kuttab

The statement coming out of the Jordan News Agency, Petra, was very ordinary. It stated that President Mahmoud Abbas and his delegation made up of PLO secretary Saeb Erekat and head of the Palestinian intelligence service Majed Faraj were hosted by King Abdullah and the Crown Prince for an iftar banquet on Wednesday, June 15.

The statement went on to say that the two leaders discussed current issues, including the Palestinian conflict and the stalled peace process.

The Petra news report may have sounded routine and ordinary, but this was no ordinary meeting.

The routine visits that Palestinian President Abbas usually makes to see the King have not been happening for nearly a year or so.

Very few people have been able to figure out what was the reason for this drought in relations.

Some have pointed out that it was due to the Palestinian insistence that Jordan submit a resolution to the UN Security Council back on December 24, 2014.

Jordan, which at the time was presiding over the Security Council, had advised against the move, but Ramallah insisted. The resolution failed to gain the needed minimum nine votes to be voted on.  Continue Reading »

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Jun 23 2016

REVEALED: CAUSE OF JORDANIAN ANGER WITH PALESTINIANS

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

The report  published in the Jordan Times, was very ordinary. It stated that President Mahmoud Abbas and his delegation made up of PLO secretary Saeb Erekat and head of the Palestinian intelligence service Majed Faraj were hosted by King Abdullah and the Crown Prince for an iftar banquet on Wednesday, June 15.
The report went on to say that the two leaders discussed current issues, including the Palestinian conflict and the stalled peace process.
The Jordan Times report may have sounded routine and ordinary, but this was no ordinary meeting.
The routine visits that Palestinian President Abbas usually makes to see the King have not been happening for nearly a year or so.
Very few people have been able to figure out what was the reason for this drought in relations.
Some have pointed out that it was due to the Palestinian insistence that Jordan submit a resolution to the UN Security Council back on December 29, 2014.
Jordan, which at the time was presiding over the Security Council, had advised against the move, but Ramallah insisted. The resolution failed to gain the needed minimum nine votes to be voted on. Continue Reading »

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Jun 05 2016

Is confederation viable for Jordan?

Jordan times logo         HuffingtonPost-Logo

By Daoud Kuttab

More than two years have elapsed since the last direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

When the Israelis refused to release Palestinian prisoners from a previously agreed to list, the talks, in the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry, went up in the air.

The continuation of the stalemate, coupled with the latest right-wing addition to an Israeli government already controlled by settlers, is pushing some Palestinians and Jordanians to rethink the confederation concept.

In many ways, a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation would make sense. It would be a mechanism that could end the occupation and its continued colonial settlement policy.

Confederation with Jordan would present the Israeli public with a security solution that can be guaranteed by a neighbouring country with which Israel has a peace deal and whose leader is a person Israelis trust.

Some statements, activities and decisions further fuelled this discussion. Continue Reading »

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May 12 2016

A holistic approach to press freedom

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo         HuffingtonPost-Logo

By Daoud Kuttab

The celebration of Press Freedom Day by Jordan’s UNESCO office by means of a debate on this year’s theme of access to information revealed the gap that exists between Jordan’s public position and the reality.

For press freedom to exist and flourish, a holistic approach is needed. Such approach must also be part of a larger human rights approach.

Producing a human rights strategy and declaring that the sky is the limit for press freedom will not do if there is no serious political will in this direction.

Examples of the gap are plenty.

According to the annual report of the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists, Jordan imprisoned 10 journalists in 2015 for what they wrote and for expressing their views.

These arrests did not go unnoticed by the US State Department, which made freedom of the press and detaining journalists its number one issue in its most recently produced human rights report about Jordan.

The gap between words and reality was evident in the statements made at the debate on access to information organised by UNESCO on Sunday. Continue Reading »

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May 04 2016

Why is Jordan restricting Palestinians’ travel?

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Like so many accomplished students, Benaz Someir, a Palestinian from Gaza, chose to attend Birzeit University.

 While pursuing her degree in journalism, Benaz met and later married Walid Batrawi, a fellow BA journalism student from Ramallah. For family and professional reasons, Benaz, a resident of Khan Yunis in Gaza, requested and was given permission to change her residency to the West Bank.

Having successfully convinced the Israelis to change her residency to the West Bank, Benaz was now able to travel to different parts of the world using the King Hussein Bridge, which was easier than returning to Gaza. The choice was hard, but Benaz felt that it was best for her and her career as a media trainer and for her new family in Ramallah.

That decision was made more than 20 years ago. But despite being married to a Palestinian and having proper residency in Ramallah for two decades, Benaz is being treated by Jordanian border control officers as a Gazan. Like all other West Bank and Gaza residents, Benaz holds the same Palestinian passport, yet she is treated differently than her husband.

Walid is allowed to travel to Jordan or via Jordan without any restrictions, while Benaz needs to get prior Jordanian approval. This practice began when Gazans carried Egyptian travel documents and West Bankers carried Jordanian travel documents. Continue Reading »

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May 03 2016

‘bridging’ dilemma

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo

By Daoud Kuttab

One issue subject to intense discussions is the “bridge” policy.  That is, King Hussein Bridge, which connects Palestine to Jordan and, by extension, to the rest of the world.

The bridge policy is unknown and undeclared. The main reason is that the bridge is not an international crossing point. 

While Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, it does not consider this a recognised border point, but it is also unable to call it an official border point with Palestine because the Israeli army is still the de facto power on the western part of the bridge.

The fact that the West Bank was Jordanian territory before 1967 and Jordan has not yet constitutionally ceded the West Bank (King Hussein did sever administrative ties with it in 1989) adds to the reasons the bridge is not an international border yet.

But regardless of legal definitions, some 2.8 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and holding passports issued by the Palestinian government have no possibility to travel after Israel blocked their ability to use the Lod (Ben Gurion) Airport other than the King Hussein Bridge.

For some time after the outbreak of the second Intifada, in 2000, every Palestinian wanting to travel across needed to get permission to enter issued by the Jordanian Ministry of Interior. Continue Reading »

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May 03 2016

Palestinians from Gaza who hold properly issued passports are being discriminated against if they were born in Gaza

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By Daoud Kuttab

Of all the Jordanian policies that have often been the subject of intense discussion, the one subject that has been a taboo for anyone to talk about has been the ‘bridge’ policy. The reference here is to how decisions are made in regards to travel on the King Hussein Bridge which is the only connecting point between Palestine and Jordan and by extension the only connecting point for all (except for East Jerusalem residents) to the rest of the world.

The bridge policy is unknown and undeclared.  While Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel and recognises the state of Palestine, it does not consider the bridge a recognised border point.
The West Bank was part of Jordan before 1967 and Jordan has not yet constitutionally ceded the West Bank (King Hussein did sever administrative ties with it in 1989) adds to the reasons the bridge is not an international border yet. Continue Reading »

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Apr 11 2016

Tax havens and journalistic work

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo

By Daoud Kuttab

Some five years ago, a lawyer working for the Panama-based Mossak Fonseca leaked a trove of documents exposing the identity of the owners of a large number of offshore companies registered in Jersey, the British Islands and Luxemburg.

This massive leak led to the German government’s closing three banks it deemed had violated German law and the case stopped there.

But the leaker was not satisfied and decided to make a second effort. Around a year ago, some 11 million documents including e-mails, company registrations and other sensitive documents were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutche Zeitung.

The Munich-based newspaper realised that to make use of this leak, it needed an international effort.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was asked to help and the largest journalistic effort was launched: 330 journalists from around the world were contacted and asked to participate in the follow up to this leak with conditions. Continue Reading »

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