Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki on Monday denied claims that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had ever asked him or other Palestinian Authority (PA) officials to target diaspora Palestinians who criticized Abbas on social media.
In an interview with Ma’an on Monday, al-Maliki said that he was “surprised with the false accusations which pass from mouth to mouth.”
A number of posts on the Internet have accused Abbas of requesting that PA officials use their diplomatic positions to target diaspora Palestinians who take to social media to “defame” and “incite against” Abbas, al-Maliki said.
— Ma'an News Agency (@MaanNewsAgency) October 10, 2016
“I entirely deny this rumor, which I think was created by a collusive mentality seeking to defame the president and the Palestinian leadership,” al-Maliki added, reiterating that he had not heard Abbas make such statements.
The accusations levied against Abbas mirrored recent efforts by Israeli authorities, specifically with regard to Israel blocking the Facebook accounts of scores of Palestinian journalists following an agreement between right-wing Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, and Facebook to censor content that Israel deemed as “incitement.”
Meanwhile, the PA has come under fire for cracking down on Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory who criticize the Palestinian government.
Palestinians Call For Facebook Boycott Over Censorship https://t.co/yvImNc9io9
— Jew World Order (@Local_Terrorism) October 9, 2016
Despite the fact that violations of press freedoms by Palestinian authorities have been fewer and less severe than those committed by Israeli authorities, Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA noted in a recent report that as a direct result of violations by Palestinian authorities, Palestinian journalists and media workers “avoid addressing several topics” and practiced self-censorship.