Yesterday, joining Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the Israeli government has moved to ban both the Arabic and English-language versions of Al Jazeera from operating in the country, accusing the network of sponsoring terrorism and inciting violence.
Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara accused the Qatari-funded channel of incitement in Israel and moved to revoke Al Jazeera journalists’ press cards, calling broadcasters to take the network off the air. He also proposed shutting down the channel office in Jerusalem, but this would require new legislation.
Kara said at the press conference “We have identified media outlets that do not serve freedom of speech, but endanger the security of Israel’s citizens, and the main instrument has been Al Jazeera.” “Freedom of expression is not freedom to incite.”
This move came alight with interests of several of governments of the Gulf states, where Saudi Arabia and Jordan have shut down the network offices, and United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have taken the network off the air in recent months.
“We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,” he said. He added, “Almost all countries in our region determined that Al Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization. Al Jazeera has become the main tool of Daesh [the Islamic State], Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously accused Al Jazeera of bias and anti-Israeli coverage and threatened to shut down the network, accusing Al-Jazeera of fueling last month’s unrest at a scared site in Jerusalem, the Muslim al-Aqsa mosque, which is located on what Jews call the Temple Mount. Netanyahu Tweeted after the announcement in support of the move “who [Kara] on my instructions took concrete steps to end Al-Jazeera’s incitement.”