Israel to ban Al Jazeera

Communications Ministry says Al Jazeera offices in Jerusalem to be closed, journalists to lose credentials.

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David Rosenberg,

Al Jazeera Network building in Doha, Qatar
Al Jazeera Network building in Doha, Qatar
iStock

Israel’s Communications Ministry announced Sunday that the Al Jazeera media outlet would soon be banned from both operating and broadcasting its television programming in the Jewish state.

The announcement was made during a press conference led by Communications Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud), following calls by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to shutter the Qatar-based media outlet’s Jerusalem bureau.

Al Jazeera, Netanyahu claimed, had inflamed tensions in the region with heavily biased coverage and incitement against Israelis.

"The Al-Jazeera channel continues to incite violence around the Temple Mount," Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post.

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

"If this is not possible because of legal interpretation, I am going to seek to have the necessary legislation adopted to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel."

At Sunday’s press conference, Kara said that his ministry would work to protect freedom of the press, but would not permit media outlets to threaten Israel’s security.

“Freedom of expression is a basic value, and I will do everything I can to protect objective journalism and freedom of expression, which is very important to me,” said Kara. But, continued Kara, “the events on the Temple Mount have put me in a position where I need to think about how I can secure the safety of Israel’s citizens, and that is the most important.”

“Recently, we’ve noticed that some outlets are not being used for free expression, but for incitement against Israeli citizens. One of these outlets, the Al Jazeera network, is responsible for the loss of some of our finest sons.”

Kara alluded to the July 14th shooting attack by three Israeli-Arab terrorists near the Temple Mount which left two Israeli Druze Border Police officers dead.

In the wake of the terrorist attack, Israeli security forces installed special magnetometer metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount as a precaution against future attacks.

The move sparked an angry backlash, however, among Muslim worshippers, fueled in large part by claims in the Arab media that the metal detectors were part of a broader Israeli plot to bar Muslims from praying on the Temple Mount.

Rioting ensued, ultimately resulting in the removal of the metal detectors and security cameras at the entrances to the holy site.

Even after the devices’ removal, Arabs rioted on and around the Mount, leaving some 100 injured.

Minister Kara, the first Druze member of Israel's cabinet, stated that he would work to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel, including the closure of its Jerusalem offices and the revoking of journalist credentials for all reporters affiliated with Al Jazeera.

“I’m going to request the Government Press Office revoke the journalist credentials of Al Jazeera reporters,” said Kara, adding that he was also pushing to have Al Jazeera dropped from cable and satellite services in Israel.

“I turned to the satellite companies to shut off Al Jazeera, and I’ve also asked the Internal Security Minister to close their offices in Israel.”