Netanyahu is again taking steps to shut down Qatar's Al Jazeera channel in Israel

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday resumed steps aimed at closing the Qatari Al Jazeera channel's office in Israel, vowing to take immediate action to close it as the war in Gaza continues.

The Knesset approved a draft law that would allow Israel to temporarily close foreign media outlets deemed a threat to national security, hours after a spokesman for Netanyahu's Likud party announced that parliament would convene to approve the necessary legislation.

The law approved on Monday would allow Netanyahu and the security government to close the station for 45 renewable days, and will remain in effect until the end of July or until major military operations in Gaza end.

Neither the channel's head office in Israel nor the Qatari government in Doha have yet responded to a request for comment.

Al Jazeera has previously accused Israel of systematically targeting its offices and staff.

The channel is highly critical of the Israeli military operation in Gaza, from which it broadcasts 24-hour war events.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karai accused Al Jazeera of inciting hostility against Israel. “A media outlet with offices in Israel with a work permit from the government press office cannot tolerate working against us, especially in times of war,” he said.

Israeli officials have long complained about Al Jazeera's coverage and taken no action, taking into account Qatar's funding of Palestinian construction projects in the Gaza Strip, which all sides see as a means of avoiding conflict.

See also  What's the Secret to Bitcoin's Continued Rise?

But the move to allow the government to close local offices of foreign media groups has alarmed Israel's main ally, the United States, which has said it is necessary to protect press freedom.

“If it's true, it's a complex operation,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Since the Gaza war erupted on October 7 after cross-border killings and kidnappings, Israel has freed some of its hostages in ceasefire talks brokered by the Hamas movement.

However, none of the negotiations for a second ceasefire came to fruition. In January, Netanyahu publicly called for pressure on the Qataris to put more pressure on Hamas. Qatar hosts the movement's political office and many senior Hamas officials.

Israeli government spokesman Avi Heyman did not directly respond to a question about whether the threat of action against Al Jazeera was part of such pressure, although he described the station as “putting out propaganda for years.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *