Israel plans to close broadcaster Al-Jazeera's offices


Israel is moving ahead with efforts to shut Al Jazeera's Jerusalem bureau, as its security service assesses whether the Qatar-based broadcaster presents a significant threat to the Jewish state.

The broadcaster "will follow up the subject through appropriate legal and judicial procedures", he added.

Israel said on Sunday it planned to close the local offices of al-Jazeera, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Arab satellite news broadcaster of incitement behind deadly terror attacks.

"I congratulate minister Kara, who upon my instructions, took practical steps today to stop Al Jazeera's incitement-filled activities", Netanyahu wote on twitter.

Kara said he had requested the Government Press Office revoke press credentials of Al-Jazeera's journalists, the Times of Israel reported.

Israel has regularly accused the broadcaster of bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The ministry added that it had become "ridiculous that the channel continued to broadcast from Israel". It's unclear whether Israeli authorities will order access to Al Jazeera's web content cut off, though just weeks ago the Knesset approved a law allowing the censorship of content deemed criminal or tied to terror groups.

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Egypt banned the Al Jazeera network and several other websites that were critical of the government in May and broadcasts have also been blocked in the UAE.

Al Jazeera has fiercely defended its reputation and says it is independent. "The Al-Jazeera channel continues to incite violence around the Temple Mount", Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post, referring to the Haram Al-Sharif compound in Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

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.

"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", Kara said.

Kara claimed that such extreme measures are ostensibly meant to improve journalistic practice in the country by creating "a situation that channels based in Israel will report objectively".

The network's offices in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank city of Rammallah, would not be affected by the current Israeli move.