Israeli President Addresses IPI p. 30

By: ROBERT U. BROWN ISRAEL'S PRESIDENT SHIMON Peres addressed the 45th General Assembly of the International Press Institute in Jerusalem on the prospects for peace on the Middle East and commented on an assortment of free press issues.
Peres responded to numerous questions from IPI delegates on Israeli censorship laws, and defended the need to maintain certain, limited restrictions on the press, particularly concerning the publication of news of military casualties before the families of the victims are informed. He acknowledged that the severe British Mandate press regulations and censorship laws are still in effect, but said they are not followed by the government.
"It is a remnant of the British Mandate, but not a practice of our government," he said. "Even on censorship. Censorship in Israel is based on an agreement, not in a law. I am not aware that we ever used a military measure against non-military groups or occasions. But I do hope that once we have a lawful response to the existing situation in the West Bank we don't use the British Mandate, whatsoever.
"On the West Bank, we use the Jordanian law which is based on the British Mandate. Since we did not annex either the West Bank nor Gaza, we have to respect the laws that existed when we took over those territories.
That's what we are doing. I am not aware of really using those emergency measures in Israel and we don't have others when necessary in other places. I am not aware that we used a military law against a non-military objective."
Chaim Zadok, president of Israel's Press Council, said that a free press does exist in the country, in spite of the existing laws, due to a vigilant Supreme Court which protects the principles of a free press.
Zadok, however, said he would recommend to the new government creation of a code of ethics and practices and enforcement by the Council. He also asked for a law requiring disclosure of ownership.
In a formal resolution IPI members urged the Israel government to ease ? "possibly abolish" ? the powers of censorship it inherited from the British Mandate half a century ago. It also urged the Palestinian Authority to ease its control on the press and that Isreal end its travel restrictions on accredited Palestinian journalists so that they can carry out their duties.
Another resolution condemned governments that demand journalists be licensed before they can write and urged governments everywhere to withdraw or repeal such restrictive laws.
IPI declared that all governments should ban their intelligence agents from posing as journalists. It also expressed grave concern over "a worsening climate or racism, xenophobia and intolerance in many parts of the world" and asked journalists to show greater professionalism in dealing with such potentially inflamatory issues.
Finally, IPI protested the indefinite imprisonment without trial of the Zambia Post's editor in chief Fred M'membe, and his managing editor, Bright Mwape, and called for their immediate release. They were jailed for cricitizing the Zambian vice president.
Shimon Peres
defends need to maintain limited
restrictions on
the press


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