By Rand Dalgamouni and Petra

AMMAN – A Royal Decree was issued Monday accepting the resignation of Minister of Environment Hazem Malhas, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, said.

Malhas had earlier in the day submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Samir Rifai, Petra quoted Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communication Ali Ayed as saying.

Ayed said that the resigning official had apologised in his letter of resignation for making “unintentional offensive remarks” against media organisations and individuals working in the field and that he stressed his respect for the Jordanian media outlets “which work in accordance with professional standards and ethics of the profession”.

Ayed underlined the government’s respect of “professional media and its commitment to cooperating with media institutions in line with laws governing the sector and standards of independent and professional press.

Earlier Monday, the Jordan Press Association (JPA) demanded an official apology from Malhas for the remarks that “personally targeted fellow journalists”.

The JPA council condemned the minister’s comments, which they said “offended the fourth estate”.

“The Jordan Press Association Council condemns this irresponsible act which harms the government at a time when it bears a great responsibility especially the task of holding parliamentary elections,” said a statement issued by JPA yesterday after its weekly meeting.

JPA Deputy President Hikmat Momani told The Jordan Times over the phone that “the minister must apologise to our colleagues in person at the association premises”.

“We will not accept an apology through the media,” he added.

In the statement, the council demanded that Malhas treat journalists with respect and have faith in their active role in serving the Kingdom’s interests, calling on the prime minister to take the appropriate measures to prevent the recurrence of such offences against “democracy”.

The JPA statement said: “The council reserves the right to take the necessary legal and professional measures to deal with this incident if the minister does not issue a formal apology and cease offending journalists”.

In remarks at the opening of a workshop on Sunday, Malhas ridiculed certain journalists for what he described as the absence of accurate investigative reports on environmental issues.

He particularly referred to journalists from Jordan Television, as well as a radio presenter and reporters from local dailies.

Organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and UNESCO, the four-day workshop is focusing on the media’s role in sustainable development.