Communications Minister Ayoub Kara has officially made a request to revoke the credentials of Al Jazeera journalists in Israel and close the network’s offices in Yerushalayim.
Kara made the announcement at a press conference at his office in Yerushalayim on Sunday afternoon. Al Jazeera said it was barred from attending the press conference.
Kara said that he would revoke credentials applied to the network’s journalists for both its Arabic and English channels and would block the network’s satellite transmission into Israel.
Kara said that he also planned to pass legislation that would enable the government to shut down news networks broadcasting material deemed to constitute incitement to harm citizens of Israel.
Kara said that while he saw freedom of speech as a “supreme value” he had become convinced during the recent events at the Har Habayis that Al Jazeera “supported terrorism.”
“I speak Arabic and you can not fool me with Al Jazeera English. I know how to identify when a report becomes incitement instead of freedom of expression,” Kara said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the moves, saying ” would like to congratulate Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, who, following on my instructions, today took a number of practical measures to stop Al Jazeera’s incitement in Israel.”
Netanyahu had threatened to shut down Al-Jazeera’s Israel bureau in the wake of the Qatari network’s coverage of the recent Har Habayis standoff.
“The Al-Jazeera network does not cease to foment violence over the Har Habayis,” Netanyahu said in a Facebook post at the time. “I have asked law enforcement agencies on several occasions to shut down Al-Jazeera’s offices in Yerushalayim. If this does not happen as a result of legal interpretations, I will enact the requisite legislation to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel.”
Netanyahu made similar threats to close down the network in June shortly after several Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia shut down Al-Jazeera offices as part of a wider move against Qatar due its ties with Iran and support for the Muslim Brotherhood. They later demanded closure of the broadcaster as part of a list of 13 demands put to Qatar over allegations of support for terrorism.
No comment was available from Al-Jazeera, but Walid al-Omari, the network’s Jerusalem bureau chief told TPS in June that it would appeal to the High Court of Justice to block any attempt to shut down the bureau.