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Israel moves to shut down local operations of Al Jazeera

07 August 2017
Israel moves to shut down local operations of Al Jazeera

Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara announced the plan to close Al-Jazeera at a Jerusalem news conference, accusing it of being a "tool" of the so-called Islamic State group, Shi'ite Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

The Israel government is planning to take action against Al Jazeera's local offices in Israel and wants to revoke the licenses provided to its journalists. However, no timetable for the measures was given.

Israel's communications minister, Ayoub Kara, is moving forward with a plan to ban Qatari state-funded broadcaster Al Jazeera throughout the country.

Saudi Arabia and Jordan have closed Al Jazeera offices in recent months, while the channel's signal has been blocked in the United Arab Emirates.

"I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem", Netanyahu said at the time.

"The prime minister is not too pleased with the constant incitement that you see and hear on Al Jazeera, a lot of it in Arabic". Journalists and representatives from Al Jazeera were not permitted to attend. The Al-Jazeera official said yesterday he was "surprised" at Israel's justification, and defended the channel's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it "professional and objective".

"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. Aidan White, director of the London-based Ethical Journalism Network told Al Jazeera. Netanyahu had accused Al Jazeera of encouraging a recent crisis that took place around a holy site in Jerusalem known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

Al-Jazeera was the first Arab satellite news channel to offer a range of views outside of heavily censored state media across the region and extensively covered the 2011 Arab Spring.

"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)".

Netanyahu has, however, frequently criticized news media in general, accusing various outlets of seeking to undermine his government.

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