Israel seeks to kick out Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera's offices in Jerusalem have become the target of Israel's communication minister Ayoub Kara after he said at a press conference Sunday that he wants to cancel the credentials of Al Jazeera journalists and close down the office. Photo by Atef Safadi/EPA

Aug. 7 (UPI) — Israel wants to close Al Jazeera‘s broadcast offices in Jerusalem and revoke its journalists’ press credentials in the nation because officials say the news organization is inciting terrorism.

Ayoub Kara, the country’s communication minister, alleged Sunday during a news conference that Al Jazeera is inciting violence in its Arabic and English-language channels. Al Jazeera, which launched in 1996, was barred from the news conference.

Kara wants the Knesset, Israel’s unicameral parliament, to consider his request in the next session.

“I will go through the legislatory mechanism to create the authority in which I can act freely,” Kara said. “We will try to end it as quickly as possible.”

Kara said cable TV providers agreed to take the network off the air but closing its Jerusalem bureau would need approval by the Knesset.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “expel Al Jazeera” for inciting violence through its coverage of two policemen killed at the Temple Mount and the Israeli government’s additional security at the site. After protests by Palestinians, the Israeli government removed the metal detectors and other security methods.

“We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,” Kara said.

Four Arab nations leading the boycott of Qatar have called on shutting the network, which is funded by the small Gulf nation and is based in the Qatari capital of Doha.

The four nations — Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain — already have banned Al Jazeera.

Jordan also closed Al Jazeera’s offices.

“Regimes that want to control power will almost always go after two targets — the media and the foreigners,” Rami Khouri of the American University in Beirut, said in an interview with Al Jazeera. “Everybody goes after the media.”

Aidan White, director of the London-based Ethical Journalism Network, described Israel’s decision as “a full frontal attack” on press freedom.

“It is a shocking statement, and it completely undermines Israel’s claims to be the only democracy in the region, because it gets to the heart of one of the most important institutions of democracy,” he said to Al Jazeera. “This attack on Al Jazeera is really an attack on all critical independent journalism.”


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