Israel minister says he wants to revoke Al Jazeera's press cards

Casey Dawson
August 7, 2017

The news organization, in turn, said it will take legal action.

Israel is seeking to close Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera's offices in the country and revoke its journalists' media credentials.

"The Al Jazeera network continues to stir violence around Har HaBayis", Netanyahu wrote two weeks ago. However, no timetable for the measures was given.

The network will not give up its Jerusalem bureau without a fight, however.

Kara also noted that a Saudi Arabia-led alliance that severed ties with Qatar last month had demanded the closing of Al Jazeera among its conditions for ending the dispute.

Saudi Arabia and Jordan both shut down Al Jazeera bureaus as part of a coordinated diplomatic and economic campaign against Qatar, base of the Al Jazeera's headquarters.

Kara accused the station of "supporting terrorism" and said cable broadcasters had agreed to his proposal to take the station's Arabic and English channels off air.

"Al Jazeera has become the main tool of Daesh [the Islamic State group], Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran", he told a news conference.

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Israeli officials have long accused Al-Jazeera of showing bias against the Jewish state. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has likened its coverage to "Nazi Germany-style" propaganda.

The head of the Israeli government press office (GPO), Dr Nitsan Hen, said that according to GPO rules, press cards would not be permitted if it could be a "risk to national security".

"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".

A decision will be made after receiving that opinion, he said.

Kara said the measures were meant to bolster Israel's security and "to bring a situation that channels based in Israel will report objectively". It said it will study the issue and decide how to proceed.

However, Al Jazeera has denied such allegations and said that it is an independent media agency. "Since its inception, Al Jazeera has provided Israel with a rare conduit for airing its viewpoints to Arab and Muslim audiences and participating in dialogue with them".

"Our coverage of events in the palestinian territories is professional and objective, and the Israelis have acknowledged a couple of times because we are keen to present the views and their opposites", he said. That sparked frequent complaints by then-President George W. Bush's administration.

Israel plans to ban the Al Jazeera news network from operating in the country over accusations it is "a supporter of terror".

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