Israel to close Al Jazeera offices, take network off-air
Israel wants to close broadcaster Al Jazeera’s local offices and revoke its journalists’ press credentials, the communications minister has said.
Ayoub Kara alleged that the channel supported “terrorism”, and said both its Arabic and English-language channels would be taken off air.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently accused the broadcaster of incitement.
Al Jazeera has fiercely defended its reputation and says it is independent.
Mr Netanyahu accused the pan-Arab TV channel of fuelling a recent crisis around a holy site in Jerusalem known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
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.
The Israeli prime minister vowed in late July to “expel Al Jazeera” for its reporting of the issue, which he said incited violence.
Mr Kara said cable TV providers had agreed to take the network off the air, but that closing its Jerusalem bureau would need further legislation.
Al Jazeera says its journalists were barred from the press conference where the announcement was made.
Al Jazeera has come under attack from several governments in the region in recent months to the concern of free press campaigners.
Saudi Arabia and Jordan both shut bureaux of the Qatari-funded broadcaster as part of their diplomatic campaign against the tiny Gulf state.
Shutting the network was on a list of 13 demands by the four Arab nations leading the boycott of Qatar that were tabled in June but later dropped.
Qatar’s Arabic-language news channel first launched in 1996, and shook up the media landscape in the Middle East by airing criticisms of governments and rulers in the region.
Al Jazeera says it was the first Arabic channel to feature Israeli politicians and commentators on the air.
Israel has however frequently accused it of being biased in reporting the Israel-Palestinian conflict.