Al-Jazeera blasts Israel's closure plans

Al-Jazeera threatens Israel with legal measures if it goes through with plans to ban it.

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Elad Benari,

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

The Al-Jazeera television network on Sunday evening criticized Israel’s decision to ban the network in the country.

The network denounced the measures from “a country that claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East", it said in a statement.

"Al-Jazeera stresses that it will closely watch the developments that may result from the Israeli decision, and will take the necessary legal measures towards it," it added.

Earlier on Sunday, Communications Minister Ayoob Kara (Likud) announced that, while his ministry would work to protect freedom of the press, it 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, who then added, “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,” he continued, in a reference to the July 14 shooting attack by three Israeli Arab terrorists near the Temple Mount which left two Israeli Druze Border Police officers dead.

Kara 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 the network.

Al-Jazeera, in its statement on Sunday, denied Kara’s charges that its coverage of the Al-Aqsa Mosque unrest was unprofessional.

"Al-Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by international agencies, such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom)," the network said.

Kara’s announcement came after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged last week to work to remove the Qatari network from Israel due to incitement.

"The Al-Jazeera network does not cease to incite to violence around the Temple Mount. I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al-Jazeera office in Jerusalem. If this is not done due to legal interpretation, I will work to enact the necessary laws to remove Al-Jazeera from Israel," he declared.

Al-Jazeera rejected Netanyahu's calls to shut it down, condemning what it called "arbitrary accusations and hostile statements."

It added it would "take all necessary legal measures in case they act on their threat," saying its coverage was professional and objective.