Fares Akram
February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Raed Lafi, a Palestinian journalist, sometimes find himself using terms and expressions unwillingly when referring to feuding Palestinian governments in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

"We deal with terms that are unnecessarily legal," said Raed Lafi, a Gaza-based journalist working for several Arab newspapers, blaming the political split between Gaza and the West Bank "which has forced us" to abide by specific references.

In 2007, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired a Hamas-led government after the Islamic movement routed his forces and seized control of Gaza. However, Hamas refused Abbas' decision. On the other hand, Abbas formed a Western-backed government in the West Bank, bypassing the Hamas-dominated parliament.

No local Palestinian media, except what is related to or run by Hamas, referred to the government in Gaza without one of the " deposed, dismissed or fired" adjectives.

Fed up with the description, the deposed Hamas Information Ministry last month issued a statement aimed at "defining the accurate idioms and explaining the confusion in some of the terms in use."

"Saying the deposed government when referring to the Palestinian government in Gaza is a political usage, biased, illegal and distorting the truth," the Hamas statement said.

The statement offered journalists descriptions when talking about Hamas government. "We emphasize that you use alternative descriptions that are some sort of fair, like the Palestinian government in Gaza, the Palestinian government of Ismail Haneya or the government in Gaza."

According to Raed Lafi, some of the journalists are bound by terms their news agencies or newspapers guideline. "I'm unconvinced by every term I draw on in my reporting," he said.

For Raed Lafi, the two governments in Gaza and the West Bank are "illegal." So he willingly compromises at "the Hamas-run government in Gaza and the Palestinian government in the West Bank led by Salam Fayyad," then the terms he drew up "will not disappoint anyone."

Khalil Abu Shamala, director of Al-Dameer Organization for Human Rights, says Hamas government "has no right to impose terms on the media or even intervene in the legal formatting of the idioms."

"From our point of view, the two governments are illegal," Abu Shamala said.

Hamas media referred to Salam Fayyad's government in the West Bank as "Dayton government" after the U.S. security envoy Keith Dayton who oversees training of pro-Abbas forces there. Hamas accuses those troops of cracking down on its supporters in the West Bank, which the Abbas government denied.

Hamas' statement came four days before Jan. 25, 2010, the date parliamentary and presidential elections must be held. The power- struggle between Hamas and Fatah and the ensuing political split between Gaza and the West Bank prevented the elections.

Hani Habib, a political analyst, said the Hamas' statement to the journalists "comes at a time the two authorities lack their credibility and legitimacy."

"Using these terms and idioms will contribute to boosting the split more than ever," Habib added.


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