Israel plans to close broadcaster Al-Jazeera's offices

Geneva Matthews
August 7, 2017

"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 condemns this action on the part of a State that claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East", said to AFP this official, adding that the chain will be challenged in the justice of this measure, which he described as a "serious".

He said that cable broadcasters had agreed to his proposal to take the station's Arabic and English channels off the air. Israel wants to close the broadcaster's offices in the country.

Al Jazeera says its journalists were barred from the press conference where the announcement was made.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara attends a ceremony for fallen ultra-Orthodox soldiers at a cemetery in Bnei Brak on May 1, 2017. He tweeted that the minister acted "on my instructions and took concrete steps to end Al-Jazeera's incitement" in Israel.

Kara said it was "delusional" that other Arab states in the region had banned Al-Jazeera for these reasons, but Israel so far has not.

He said the broadcaster "will follow up the subject through appropriate legal and judicial procedures".

Saudi Arabia and Jordan have closed Al Jazeera offices in recent months, while the channel's signal has been blocked in the United Arab Emirates.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories for global news organizations, said the move "is certainly a cause for concern".

"Lately, nearly all countries in our region determined that al-Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization", Kara said.

"I have spoken several times to law-enforcement authorities demanding to close al-Jazeera's offices in Yerushalayim".

New security measures imposed by Israel after two policemen were killed nearby sparked protests by Palestinians, and the Israeli government eventually removed the security apparatus, which included metal detectors.

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

The network's offices in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank city of Ramallah would not be affected.

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