Netanyahu backs push to shut down Al Jazeera

Saul Bowman
August 7, 2017

The Doha-based news provider said it "deplores" Tel Aviv's actions, after Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara announced on Sunday that he would seek to close Al Jazeera offices, scamble its channels, and bar its reporters.

The broadcaster "will follow up the subject through appropriate legal and judicial procedures", he added.

Israel is moving ahead with efforts to shut Al Jazeera's Jerusalem bureau, as its security service assesses whether the Qatar-based broadcaster presents a significant threat to the Jewish state.

Three of those nations - Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt - already have banned Al Jazeera.

Kara said he has asked cable and satellite networks to block Al Jazeera transmissions and is seeking legislation to ban them altogether. "Since its inception, Al Jazeera has provided Israel with a rare conduit for airing its viewpoints to Arab and Muslim audiences and participating in dialogue with them".

The Israeli prime minister vowed in late July to "expel Al Jazeera" for its reporting of the issue, which he said incited violence.

"Censoring Al-Jazeera or closing its offices will not bring stability to the region, but it would put Israel firmly in the camp of some of the region's worst enemies of press freedom", said Sherif Mansour, the committee's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

Al Jazeera has come under attack from several governments in the region in recent months to the concern of free press campaigners.

All journalists working within Israel must be accredited by the government, and both civilian and military authorities have wide latitude to censor print and broadcast publications, according to the US State Department. "In democratic countries there are also things that are unacceptable, and a lot of what Al Jazeera is saying and broadcasting falls into that category". It also was the first Arab-owned news outlet to host Israeli officials and commentators, which some analysts note coincided with Qatar's ties with Israel at the time.

Palestinians refused to enter the site for almost two weeks over the new security measures imposed after three Israeli Arabs shot dead the policemen nearby.

"Al Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by worldwide agencies, such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom)".

The network's offices in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank city of Rammallah, would not be affected by the current Israeli move.

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