A senior correspondent for Associated Press was barred by security from covering yesterday’s historic meeting between Prince William and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Nebi Qena, who has worked as Israel and Palestine correspondent for AP for nearly three years, was prevented from entering the summit and asked about his “extraction”- his ethic origin – while his colleagues were asked whether Qena was a “Muslim”.
The Duke of Cambridge is the first member of the British royal family to make an official visit to Israel and Palestine.
An AP spokesperson said: “The Associated Press decries this blatant ethnic and religious profiling of an AP journalist and calls on the Prime Minister’s office to cease such biased practices immediately.”
Qena confirmed to the Foreign Press Association in Israel that he was accredited, had assurances from Netanyahu’s office that he would be allowed to enter and arrived over two hours in advance of the event.
The FPA said in a statement: “The Foreign Press Association condemns this disgraceful and indefensible behaviour by the Prime Minister’s security staff in the strongest terms.
“Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long line of offensive and unprecedented behaviour by security staff, including inappropriate personal questions and strip searches of journalists trying to cover the news.
“We call on the Prime Minister’s office to apologize immediately, and urge the Duke of Cambridge’s office to speak out against this offensive behaviour, which has marred a historic visit. Enough is enough.”
Qena was meant to be producing a pool report for use by all international media.
The security department in Netanyahu’s office issued a statement to AP claiming the “incident was caused by human error” and it regretted causing “distress or discomfort”.
The royal visit comes after the protests along the Israeli border by Palestinians following the United States’ decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and the 70th anniversary of the formation of Israel.
The protests have resulted in dozens of Palestinian deaths in Gaza since March, including Palestinian photo-journalist Yaser Mutjar.
Additional reporting by Press Association
Picture: Sebastian Scheiner/Pool via Reuters