RAMALLAH, June 9, 2012 (WAFA) – Palestine News Agency WAFA Saturday celebrated 40 years since its founding in the presence of a large audience of Palestinian officials as well as local and international guests.
WAFA was established in Beirut in 1972 by the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization to be the mouthpiece of the Palestinian resistance movement and its struggle for liberation and freedom.
Speaking at the ceremony, presidential secretary Tayyeb Abdul Rahim praised WAFA’s operations over the years and said that WAFA has moved from a small agency with a handful of people working with limited facilities and skills to become a full-fledged news agency capable of delivering the Palestinian people’s message to the world.
WAFA chairman of board Riyad al-Hassan spoke about the Palestinian agency’s long journey relocating from one country to the other, starting in Beirut in 1972, where its staff worked under fire, and then moving to Tunisia after the PLO’s withdrawal from Lebanon. WAFA ended up in the Gaza Strip following the signing of the Oslo accords with Israel in 1994. However, it was forced to re-settle to Ramallah in the West Bank after the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.
“There has recently been noticeable quantitative and qualitative change in WAFA’s work, in addition to the richness and diversity of the agency’s activities,” said Hassan.
He said that the new law regarding WAFA President Mahmoud Abbas had signed in May of 2011 gives WAFA the right to establish its own administrative and financial systems and would free it from Palestinian Authority regulations regarding employment and operations. It will turn the agency from a state-run into a public news service.
Speaking on behalf of the Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA), Faisal Shboul, FANA’s deputy secretary general who is also head of Jordan’s Petra News Agency, said the media has grown stronger with the advent of information technology.
He urged WAFA and the Arab agencies to cooperate among them in order to take advantage of the opportunities that exist to reach the Arab reader and close the gap with the developed world.
George Penintaex, secretary general of the Alliance of Mediterranean News Agency (AMAN) told the audience that WAFA is the synonym of the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom and justice.
He noted the hardships, destructions and persecution WAFA went through in history on its way to constitute a major source of information on the current events in the Middle East.
Daniela Viglione, President and CEO of the Italian news agency AGI, told WAFA that the agency plays an important role in conveying the Palestinian voice “as a serious and important news agency equipped with first-class journalists.”
WAFA and AGI signed an agreement of cooperation in late 2010, said Viglione, adding that the agreement aimed to help WAFA achieve most advanced technological infrastructure and capacity, in addition to exchanging news and facilitating the information flow between Palestine and Italy.
Director-General of Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) Maxim Minchev extended his congratulations to WAFA on the 40th anniversary of its founding, and sent his best wishes to the Palestinian state and people.
The Jerusalem-based correspondent of the Turkish Anadolu Agency, Taner Aydi, stressed WAFA’s prime position as the official news agency in the Palestinian territory with efficient and quick news service.