Israel should abandon plans to close, censor Al-Jazeera

Marie Harrington
August 7, 2017

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara told a press conference that he meant to ask the Government Press Office, an official body in charge of issuing press cards, to revoke the credentials of Israel-based Al-Jazeera's reporters.

The move follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call for the station's offices to be shut down, accusing it of inflaming tensions around Al-Aqsa mosque, the Jerusalem holy site where Palestinians staged an nearly two-week protest last month against Israeli security measures installed after a deadly shootout.

"Israel should abandon these undemocratic plans and allow Al-Jazeera and all journalists to report freely from the country and areas it occupies".

In recent months, Saudi Arabia and Jordan shut down Al Jazeera bureaus as part fo a economic campaign against Qatar. Netanyahu tweeted his congratulations to Kara "who on my instructions took concrete steps to end Al-Jazeera's incitement" in Israel.

He also noted that countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt "have concluded that Al-Jazeera incites terrorism and religious extremism".

Israel has confirmed that it is seeking to shut down Al Jazeera's offices in Jerusalem and revoke the credential of its journalists, according to a statement by the Israeli communications minister.

Al Jazeera says its journalists were barred from the press conference where the announcement was made.

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Kara added that he had asked Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan to use his powers to close the station's offices in Israel, although a spokesman for Erdan said he doubted the minister had the authority to do so. No timetable for the measures was given.

All three countries and Bahrain have enforced a blockade on Qatar and issued a list of demands including the closure of Al Jazeera.

He wrote on Facebook on 26 July that he wanted Al Jazeera expelled amid tensions over a holy site in Jerusalem.

"If this is not possible because of legal interpretation, I am going to seek to have the necessary legislation adopted to expel al-Jazeera from Israel". Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has likened its coverage to "Nazi Germany-style" propaganda, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently accused the Arab satellite news broadcaster of "incitement" to violence.

The Arabic-language news channel first launched in 1996, and shook up the media landscape in the Middle East by airing criticisms of governments and rulers in the region.

New security measures imposed by Israel after two policemen were killed nearby sparked protests by Palestinians, and the Israeli government eventually removed the security apparatus, which included metal detectors.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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