Telecom Ministry Urges Pressure on Israel to Enable 3G, 4G

RAMALLAH, January 28, 2015 (WAFA) – The Ministry of Telecommunications urged on Wednesday the international community to pressure the Israeli government to enable the use of 3G and 4G telecom technologies by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

In a press release, the ministry voiced astonishment over a recent Israeli government’s order which allowed the provision of 3G frequencies to Israeli companies providing telecom services to illegal settlements in the o Palestinian Territories, while at the same time, continues to deprive indigenous Palestinians of the same service.

The telecom ministry said such a case contradicts with Article 36 of the Oslo Agreement of 1993, under which no Israeli company could start activity in the oPT without the Palestinian Authority’s permission. This also violates relevant international conventions and deprives the indigenous people of their own resources.

Article 36 of the Oslo Agreement stipulates “Israel recognizes that the Palestinian side has the right to build and operate separate and independent communication systems and infrastructures including telecommunication networks, a television network and a radio network.”

“The Palestinian side has the right to establish its own telecommunications policies, systems and infrastructures. The Palestinian side also has the right to choose any and all kinds of communication systems (including broadcasting systems) and technologies, suitable for its future in, inter alia, basic and value added services (including cellular telephony),” continues the article.

The ministry said that depriving the Palestinians of recent telecom technologies broadens the gap between the Palestinian people and others across the world, at a time illegal settlers enjoy the latest in the telecom industry. “This would constitute a form of racial discrimination,” the statement stressed.

Telecom minister, Mousa Allam, said Israel imposes strict restrictions on the entry of equipment needed modernize telecom services and networks in the oPT, which has negative impacts on the overall economic growth since telecom creates work opportunities for many Palestinian young entrepreneurs.

Undersecretary of the Ministry of Communications announced yesterday Solomon Zuhairi told WAFA that this is not the first campaign of its kind. “When United States President Barack Obama visited Palestine in March 31, 2013, activists along with the Ministry of Communications launched a campaign to pressure Israel into allowing the use of 3G.”

Back then placards were hanged in the streets asking Obama not to bring his smart phone, because Palestine doesn’t have 3G, because Israel continues to deny it.

Back then, the ministry reached out to European Union representatives to participate in the campaign to pressure Israel. Israel promised to consider the issue, but later rejected the Palestinian request.

According to Zuhairi, Palestine is the only country in the world that doesn’t have access to 3G and 4G services.

In response to rumors that Palestinian companies are behind the campaign, Zuhairi said that the campaign is not driven by any company, but by a common belief that Israel is denying Palestinians one of their rights in the use of their natural resources.

He described denying the use of 3G and 4G as a form of cornering Palestinian companies, especially that all telecom stations are located within the illegal Israeli settlements and Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control and constitutes 60% of the West Bank.

Zuhairi said that such actions by Israel should be faced with Palestinian rejection, because Israel will continue to deny Palestinians their right to use 3G and 4G services if Palestinians give up to the reality imposed by the occupation.

However, he stressed that the Palestinian Telecom companies should also bear the responsibility in providing the population with affordable services and balanced prices.

On the other hand, Palestinians should honor their ethical and national duty and stand against supporting Israeli products and services through buying Israeli services and sim cards.