After Saudi-led bloc, Israel to close Al Jazeera


Jerusalem—Israel plans to shut down Qatar’s pan-Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem al-Quds and revoke the media credentials of its journalists following a similar move by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

“We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,” Israel’s Communications Minister Ayoob Kara said Sunday during a news conference, which Al Jazeera was barred from attending.

Kara also said that he had asked cable providers to turn off Al Jazeera’s broadcasts, claiming the channel was being used by groups to “incite” violence.

No timetable for the measures was given but, the Israeli minister said he expected Israel’s parliament, known as the Knesset, to consider his request in the upcoming session.

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

The announcement came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to shut down Al Jazeera’s offices, accusing it of inciting violence against Tel Aviv. 

Al Jazeera condemned the decision as unsubstantial, saying it would “take the necessary legal measures towards it.”

“Al Jazeera Media Network denounces this decision, which comes in the context of a campaign that was initiated by a statement made earlier by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Al Jazeera said in a statement late on Sunday.

The network said in July that Tel Aviv was aligning itself with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain that have severed diplomatic and commercial relations with Qatar.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia have shut down Al-Jazeera’s bureaus, while the channel and its affiliate sites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

The closure of Al Jazeera is one of the 13 demands put forward by the four countries to normalize ties with Qatar which the country has rejected.

Most Arab governments have no diplomatic relations with Israel. Even so, reports have indicated that several of them, including Saudi Arabia, have had secret relations with Tel Aviv.

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