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

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

Ahmad Gharabali AFP

Israel plans to revoke press credentials of Al Jazeera journalists, close their Yerushalayim bureau and pull the Qatar-based station's broadcasts from local cable and satellite providers, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said on Sunday. That has changed in the past month since Netanyahu blamed Al Jazeera's reporting for stirring passions against Israel that led to violent demonstrations, after the government installed metal detectors at the Jerusalem shrine following a shooting attack that killed two policemen.

Doha-based Al-Jazeera on its English language website condemned the measures as "undemocratic" and said that it will take legal action.

"Lately, nearly all countries in our region determined that Al-Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization", Kara said. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has likened its coverage to "Nazi Germany-style" propaganda.

"On my instructions [Kara] took concrete steps to end Al Jazeera's incitement" in Israel.

"I contacted the Public Security Minister [Gilad Erdan] in order to close the [Al Jazeera] network's offices in Israel".

"And when we see that all these countries have determined as fact that Al Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that then something delusional is happening here".

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Kara said: "We have identified media outlets that do not serve freedom of speech but endanger the security of Israel's citizens, and the main instrument has been Al Jazeera".

However, Israel has been consistently accusing Al Jazeera of featuring biased news stories related to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu had said on July 27 that he wanted al-Jazeera expelled amid tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The network's editor in Jerusalem has accused Mr Netanyahu of collusion with his autocratic Arab neighbours in an attack on free and independent media.

The latter four Arab states have included shutting down Al-Jazeera in a list of demands made to Qatar, which they accuse of supporting extremists.

Kara compared the ban to moves by Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf countries in the wake of a diplomatic crisis with Qatar. Al Jazeera continues to defend itself by saying that it was the first Arabic channel to present Israeli politicians and commentators on its various programs.

Kara said the measures were meant to bolster Israel's security and "to bring a situation that channels based in Israel will report objectively".

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