Israel should abandon plans to close, censor Al-Jazeera

07 August, 2017, 01:08 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • Employees of Qatar based news network and TV channel Al Jazeera are seen at their Jerusalem office

"The collusion by Netanyahu with his Arab autocratic neighbors leaves little doubt that free independent media and truth are ready to be sacrificed as collateral damage in the power politics of the region", Al Jazeera's Jerusalem bureau chief, Walid Omary, wrote in an opinion piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"Al Jazeera deplores this action from a state that is called the only democratic state in the Middle East and considers what it has done is risky", an unnamed official with Al Jazeera told the AFP.

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Kara said: "We have identified media outlets that do not serve freedom of speech but endanger the security of Israel's citizens, and the main instrument has been Al Jazeera".

He said that cable broadcasters had agreed to his proposal to take the station's Arabic and English channels off the air.

During the press conference, Kara also said that the interior ministry will also be involved in shutting down Al Jazeera's office in Jerusalem.

Israel's Communications Minister Ayoub Kara speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, 06-07-2017.

Protests erupted at the contentious site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), after Israel last month installed new security measures including metal detectors, following the killing of two Israeli policemen by three Israeli Arab attackers who shot them using weapons smuggled onto the holy site.

Al Jazeera news vowed to continue reporting on "events of occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately", despite official plans by Israel to shut down its offices in Jerusalem.

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Israeli Communications Ministry on Sunday announced to close the local offices of Al-Jazeera, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Qatar-based TV news broadcaster of incitement.

The broadcaster "will follow up the subject through appropriate legal and judicial procedures", he added.

The Foreign Press Association in Israel criticized the planned measures.

The Israeli move adds further pressure on Qatar, which has been involved in a dispute with four of its Arab neighbours.

'I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem.

"Al-Jazeera had a big role conveying the Palestinian narrative with a high professionalism", said Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman.

Regional kingpin Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt broke ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of fostering extremism and later issuing 13 demands, including Al-Jazeera's closure. The site saw violent clashes in recent weeks.

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