Israeli minister asks for closure of Al Jazeera's offices in Jerusalem

by Garry Watts August 7, 2017, 0:36
Israeli minister asks for closure of Al Jazeera's offices in Jerusalem

Communications minister Ayoub Kara said that he wants to revoke press credentials from Al Jazeera reporters, which would prevent them from working in the country. No timetable for the measures was given.

Accusing Al Jazeera of incitement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed last month to shut down its Jerusalem bureau amid clashes between Israeli authorities and Palestinian worshipers over access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque site in Jerusalem's Old City.

"I congratulate Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara", Netanyahu tweeted on Sunday, "who, in accordance with my instructions, took practical steps today to stop Al-Jazeera's incitement in Israel".

Saudi Arabia and Jordan have both shut Al Jazeera bureaux this year as part of the ongoing "cold war" playing out in the Gulf, which culminated in the full blockade of Qatar.

"It is a shocking statement, and it completely undermines Israel's claims to be the only democracy in the region, because it gets to the heart of one of the most important institutions of democracy", he said to Al Jazeera.

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

"I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the al-Jazeera office in Jerusalem", Netanyahu said in calling for the channel's expulsion. Journalists and representatives from Al Jazeera were not permitted to attend.

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"This attack on Al Jazeera is really an attack on all critical independent journalism". "Freedom of expression is not freedom to incite".

Mr Netanyahu had accused the pan-Arab TV channel of fuelling a recent crisis around a holy site in Jerusalem known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Al Jazeera, which launched in 1996, was barred from the news conference.

Israel has regularly accused the broadcaster of bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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

Kara claimed that such extreme measures are ostensibly meant to improve journalistic practice in the country by creating "a situation that channels based in Israel will report objectively".


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