Influential sections of the Israeli-right and Palestinians are set to clash in the virtual world of Wikipedia, the internet-based free encyclopaedia which depends on contributions by its readers.

Abed A-Nassar, chairman of the Association of Palestinian Journalists, has called on Palestinian institutions to prepare for the conflict, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Mr. Nassar's call for a “public relations war” follows a report in the newspaper that Israeli settlers had organised a class to train supporters to register and edit Wikipedia pages, so that the “Zionist” viewpoint could be better projected in cyberspace.

The course had been launched in order to sway domestic and international public opinion in favour of the organisers by encouraging Wikipedia contributions in Hebrew and English.

“The idea is not to make Wikipedia rightist but for it to include our point of view,” Naftali Bennett, the director of the Yesha Council of Settlements, was quoted as saying.

In 2008, Mr. Bennet had resigned as the chief of staff of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The Internet is not managed well enough, and Israel's position there is appalling. Take for example the Turkish flotilla [to Gaza]. During the first hours we were nowhere to be found. In those first hours millions of people typed the words Gaza-bound flotilla and read what was written on Wikipedia,”

Mr. Bennet observed. The Yesha Council has announced a prize for the “best Zionist editor”, a person who would generate the most “Zionist” changes in Wikipedia over the next four years. The winner would receive a hot-air balloon ride over Israel, Haaretz said.

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