The members of the International Press Institute (IPI), meeting at their 62nd Annual General Assembly during the IPI World Congress on May 20, 2013 in Amman, Jordan, adopted by unanimous vote a resolution calling for an end to restrictions on freedom of movement for Israeli and Palestinian journalists.
An IPI delegation that conducted a fact-finding mission to the region in February 2013 found that Palestinian and Israeli journalists suffer from unacceptable restrictions on freedom of movement between Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. These hinder the ability of journalists to do their job and are a violation of their rights.
At present, Gaza-based journalists are cut off from Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and have a difficult time travelling anywhere.
The vast majority of Palestinian journalists in the West Bank cannot go to East Jerusalem or enter Israel, and are subject to travel restrictions imposed by Israel within the West Bank that can hinder their ability to do their jobs.
Israeli journalists are not allowed to travel to Gaza. As of May 2013, reportedly in response to a petition signed by some 200 journalists, the Palestinian government announced that it would require Israeli journalists to apply for accreditation if they wish to report from the West Bank.
Both Israeli and Palestinian journalists would report better if they could cover stories first-hand. More importantly, free movement would give journalists an opportunity to experience and absorb the culture and daily life of the other side, challenging stereotypes and misinformation. IPI notes that a violation of press freedom for one journalist is a violation for all journalists.
To that end, the Israeli government should take steps to formally recognise the existence of Palestinian media organisations; it should grant journalists working for those organisations appropriate accreditation that can be recognised by the Israeli military, for example Government Press Office cards; and it should provide Palestinian journalists with the necessary permissions to report from Israel.
The Israeli army should also conduct sensitisation training for soldiers working at checkpoints in the West Bank so that they are aware of the rights and duties of journalists. Soldiers should accept that press accreditation cards issued by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) confer the rights of journalists on their bearers, including the right to freedom of movement.
The Palestinian government should refrain from imposing undue restrictions on the right of Israeli journalists to report from the West Bank, and foreign and Israeli journalists should be allowed to report from the Gaza Strip.
All journalists and journalists associations, including Israeli and Palestinian journalist associations, should actively support the right of Israeli and Palestinian journalists to work freely throughout the region.