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LOS ANGELES — A Palestinian television station geared specifically toward Israeli Arabs has been shut down just a few weeks after its debut on order of the Israeli government.
F48 – whose name stands for Falastine 1948, the Arabic word for Palestine, and the year of Israel’s founding, which Palestinians refer to as the nakba (catastrophe) as it marked the beginning of the displacement of the Palestinian people – is funded by the Palestinian Authority and was launched last month in Israel’s heavily Arab city of Nazareth.
But late this week Gilad Erdan, Israel’s public security minister, signed an order blocking the station from broadcasting for the next six months, citing issues of “sovereignty” and declaring that a station run by the Palestinian Authority does not have legal ground to run operations from within Israeli territory.
“I will not allow any breach of the sovereignty of the State of Israel and give the Palestinian Authority a foothold in Israeli territory,” Erdan said. Israel’s 1.6 million Arabs are full citizens of the country, but most self-identify as Palestinians. They rarely watch mainstream Israeli programming, and F48 had launched in hopes of tapping this population as an eager market for arts, culture and social programming that is otherwise unavailable to them on Israeli television.
The station, which was broadcast by Palsat, Palestinian satellite television, was centering its production in Nazareth and then transferring its footage to the PA-controlled West Bank city of Ramallah. It was then broadcast by satellite into homes in Israel.