Tel Aviv – Despite being the Arab channel that hosts Israeli government and army spokespersons the most, Israel plans to revoke media credentials of al-Jazeera TV journalists.
Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, the only Arab minister in Benjamin Netenyahu’s government, issued an order to close Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau and pull its broadcasts from local cable and satellite providers.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Kara said he would ask the Government Press Office to revoke the accreditation of Jazeera’s journalists in Israel, where it has about 30 staff. He added that steps had to be taken against media, which has been determined by almost “all Arab countries to actually be a supporter of terror, and we know this for certain.”
“There is no shortage of free speech in this country. There are plenty of dissenting voices. In democratic countries there are also things that are unacceptable, and a lot of what Al Jazeera is saying and broadcasting falls into that category,” added the minister.
The official added that the government identified media outlets that do not serve freedom of speech but endanger the security of Israel’s citizens, mainly Jazeera.
All countries in the region determined that Jazeera supports terrorism and religious radicalization, according to Kara, adding that the channel is a tool of ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran.
The closure did not appear imminent, however, as a legal process was still required to implement most of the proposed steps.
Kara said the measures were intended to bolster Israel’s security and to make sure that channels based in Israel report objectively. The ban will only be in Israeli territories, but the minister stated if he had the power he would ban it in Gaza Strip as well.
Yet, if Jazeera resorts to Israeli Higher court to annul the ban, the procedure will be frozen and the channel will continue with its broadcast until a judicial order has been made.
Despite the minister’s decision, anyone with a satellite receiver can still watch the channel in Israel.