A lawyer for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera News Agency demanded that the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, apologize for publishing a faulty report in its printed and online editions. The report in question claimed that Al Jazeera had apologized to Israel for a weekly report which focused on Sameer Al Quntar, a Lebanese fighter who was release recently in a prisoner-swap deal after more than 30 years in Israeli prison.
The lawyer added that Al Jazeera never apologized and was never asked to apologize after it published the “Open Dialogue” program focusing on Quntar on August 7.
Waddah Khanfar, the general director of Al Jazeera, issued a press release stating that a statement released by Al Jazeera did not include any apology to Israel.
The statement revealed that several speakers who participated in the program violated the “media honor code” of Al Jazeera, and described this issue as a serious violation. The statement included a vow that Al Jazeera will take required measures to respond to these violations.
Also, the statement revealed that Khanfar asked the director of the program to take precautions to ensure that these violations will not be repeated.
The lawyer said that Al Jazeera issued a press release explaining what happened, but did not issue any apology. He demanded that Haaretz apologize on its front page, and republish the official statement of Al Jazeera.
He also asked Haaretz to confirm that the meeting which took place between Waleed Al Omary, head of the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem, and the head of the Israeli Press Office, Daniel Seaman, did not include any Israeli demand for an apology.
Last week, the Arabs48 news website published a report stating that Haaretz said that the Al Jazeera coverage of the prisoner swap deal on July 19 angered the Israelis, especially since the program described Quntar as the “Hero of the Arabs” and other objectionable statements which caused some Israelis to call for a boycott of Al Jazeera.
Haaretz said that Ghassan Bin Jado, head of the Al Jazeera office in Lebanon, celebrated the release of Quntar during the live coverage, and called him “the hero of all Arabs”.
Al Jazeera told the Arabs48 news website that it never issued an apology, but it is conducting routine reviews to improve the quality of its programs, regardless of any Israeli objection.
Al Quntar, for his part, slammed the media campaign against Al Jazeera and against Ghassan Bin Jado.
Al Quntar called for a campaign in support of Al Jazeera, saying that the station is being subjected to an organized smear campaign carried by Israel.