The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, led by Mahmoud Abbas of the Fateh party, shut down a radio station on Friday that Israel claimed was causing interference to air control of the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, and arrested the station’s owner.Israel has long claimed ‘interference’ by Palestinian radio stations, and has only licensed one Palestinian radio station – in Jericho, the lowest place on earth, which, because of the lay of the land, cannot get its signal to go beyond the city of Jericho itself.
The al-Hariya radio station broadcasts on the FM band, which normally does not cause interference to airplane communications (which use a different band altogether). Nevertheless, Israeli authorities demanded the shutdown of the station, and Palestinian police complied.
The radio station owner, however, refused to shut down the station, and was arrested by Palestinian police. Majdi al-Arabid had previously operated the radio station in Gaza, but moved to the West Bank when the Hamas party took power in Gaza as required by the Palestinian constitution. As al-Arabid’s station is decidedly pro-Fateh, he felt that he would be in danger if he continued to broadcast in Gaza.
The Fateh-Hamas rivalry is largely promoted by Israel in order to destabilize the Palestinian Authority. After the Hamas party won the majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament in 2006, and thus the right to form the Palestinian government, Israeli occupying authorities prevented this from happening, as they preferred the rival Fateh party (which lost the election). A year after the election, Hamas managed to form a government in one of the two Palestinian Occupied Territories, the Gaza Strip, but was prevented by Israel from doing so in the other Occupied Territory, the West Bank.