* Arafat’s mysterious death at centre of dispute
* Al Jazeera "astonished" by Palestinian Authority ban
* Palestinians say it was latest example of "incitement"
(Adds Al-Jazeera comments)
RAMALLAH, West Bank, July 15 (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority banned Al-Jazeera television from operating in its territory on Wednesday and said it would take legal action over its broadcast of allegations against President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Information Ministry said in a statement the Qatar-based channel’s Arabic service spread falsehoods and incited viewers against the authorities that run the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The ministry said allegations carried on Al-Jazeera on Tuesday and attributed to a senior figure in Abbas’s Fatah party, Farouq al-Qadoumi, were untrue.
The channel quoted Qadoumi as saying Abbas conspired with Israel to kill his predecessor Yasser Arafat in 2003. Arafat died in a Paris hospital in 2004 of an undisclosed ailment.
"Al-Jazeera television has been devoting significant segments of its broadcasts to incitement against the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian National Authority," the ministry statement said.
"Despite our repeated calls (on Al-Jazeera) to remain objective when it covers Palestinian affairs and to voice a balanced position regarding the internal Palestinian situation, the channel is still inciting," it said.
In a report on the ban, an Al Jazeera presenter said the channel "expressed its astonishment about this decision by the Palestinian Authority and said it will issue a statement to answer the accusations of the Palestinian Ministry of Information".
Al Jazeera, the presenter said, was one of several news operations to report remarks by Qadoumi about an alleged scheme to kill Arafat.
Palestinian officials had dismissed as smears Qadoumi’s accusations which they say were aimed at wrecking unity efforts within Fatah, which has been plagued by factional divisions.
Qadoumi lives outside the Palestinian territories and has long been a critic of Abbas.
Relations between the Palestinian Authority and Al Jazeera grew tense after Hamas Islamists routed Abbas forces in the Gaza Strip two years ago. The channel’s correspondents have said that Abbas aides and security officials were inciting against them.
Palestinian officials accuse the station of siding with Hamas, allegations Al Jazeera has denied. On occasion, Al Jazeera correspondents have been banned from Abbas’s office or ejected from it.