Netanyahu moves to shut down Al Jazeera TV in Israel

April 2, 2024 by AAP
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has revived moves to shutter Qatari satellite television station Al Jazeera in Israel, pledging to take “immediate action” to close the station’s local office while the war in Gaza continues.

Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS

Hours after his party spokesperson said parliament would be convened to ratify the necessary law, the Knesset approved the bill allowing the temporary closure in Israel of foreign broadcasters considered to be a threat to national security.

Al Jazeera, which the Qatari government funds, called the Israeli measure an “escalation” and said it “comes as part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence Al Jazeera,” according to a statement.

The law approved on Monday would allow Netanyahu and the security cabinet to shut the network’s offices in Israel for 45 days, which could be renewed, and would stay in force until the end of July or until the end of major military operations in Gaza.

Al Jazeera rejected accusations that it harmed Israel’s security as a “dangerous and ridiculous lie” that puts its journalists at risk.

Al Jazeera has been fiercely critical of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, from where it has reported around the clock throughout the war.

Al Jazeera said Israeli authorities have deliberately targeted and killed several of its journalists, including Samer Abu Daqqa and Hamza AlDahdooh, both killed in Gaza during the conflict. Israel has said it does not target journalists.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karai accused Al Jazeera of encouraging hostilities against Israel.

“It is impossible to tolerate a media outlet, with press credentials from the government press office and with offices in Israel, acting from within against us, certainly in wartime,” he said.

Israeli officials have long complained about Al Jazeera’s coverage but stopped short of taking action, mindful of Qatar’s bankrolling of Palestinian construction projects in the Gaza Strip – seen by all sides as a means of staving off conflict.

However, the move to allow the government to close down the local offices of foreign media groups drew concern from the United States, Israel’s main ally, which said it was critical to maintain freedom of the press.

“If it is true, a move like this is concerning,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a briefing.

Qatar established Al Jazeera in 1996 and views the network as a way to bolster its profile in the Arab region.



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