Saturday, 19 August, 2017

Israel seeks to kick out Al Jazeera

Israeli minister asks for closure of Al Jazeera's offices in Jerusalem Israel moves to close Al Jazeera's offices over 'support for terrorism'
Christy Curtis | 07 August, 2017, 02:03

Israel's ministry of communications says it plans to close the pan-Arab Al Jazeera news network and ban its journalists from reporting in the country.

He said Israel would join the Gulf countries and added: "These countries say the channel [Al Jazeera] is a tool of Daesh, Hezbollah and Iran; we are also supporting this trend".

There was no timetable given for the implementation of the measures.

Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted out his support Sunday for his government's move to shut down the local offices of Al Jazeera.

"We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work".

Jordan and Saudi Arabia have recently closed Al-Jazeera's local offices, while the channel and its affiliate sites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

Asked if shutting down Al Jazeera's operations would make Israel appear to oppose freedom of the press, an official close to the prime minister said the country accepted diverse opinions but not incitement.

"I congratulate minister Kara, who upon my instructions, took practical steps today to stop Al Jazeera's incitement-filled activities", Netanyahu wote on twitter.

However, Al Jazeera has denied such allegations and said that it is an independent media agency.

The Israeli ministry said it would also demand the revocation of the credentials of journalists working for the channel and cut its cable and satellite connections. Journalists and representatives from Al Jazeera were not permitted to attend.

Al Jazeera's office in Jerusalem.

"The Al-Jazeera channel continues to incite violence around the Temple Mount", Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post on July 27, referring to the religious site in Jerusalem that is holy to both Muslims and Jews.

"Al-Jazeera had a big role conveying the Palestinian narrative with a high professionalism", said Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman. The site saw violent clashes in recent weeks. He has frequently criticised the news media, accusing outlets of seeking to undermine his government.

Al Jazeera has met with accusations of anti-Israel bias and antisemitism for years.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories for global news organizations, said the move "is certainly a cause for concern".

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