Netanyahu revives moves to shut Qatar’s Al Jazeera TV in Israel

Apr 1, 2024 11:38 pm | News

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revived moves on Monday to shut down Qatari satellite television station Al Jazeera in Israel, saying through his party spokesperson that parliament would be convened in the evening to ratify the necessary law.

Thereafter, Netanyahu “will take immediate action to shut down Al Jazeera in accordance with procedure set out in the law”, the Likud party statement said. Israel has previously accused the station of agitating against it among Arab viewers.

Neither the station’s main office in Israel nor the Qatari government in Doha immediately responded to a request for comment. Al Jazeera has previously accused Israel of systematically targeting its offices and personnel.

Israeli officials have long complained about Al Jazeera’s coverage but stopped short of taking action, mindful of Qatar’s bankrolling of Palestinian construction projects in the Gaza Strip – seen by all sides as a means of staving off conflict.

Since the Gaza war that erupted on Oct. 7 with a cross-border killing and kidnapping rampage by the enclave’s dominant Hamas Islamists, Doha has mediated ceasefire negotiations under which Israel recovered some of those taken hostage.

However, talks on a second proposed truce appear to be going nowhere. In January, Netanyahu publicly called for the Qataris to be pressed into applying more pressure on Hamas. Qatar hosts the group’s political office and several top Hamas officials.

Asked if the threat against Al Jazeera might be part of such pressure, an Israeli government spokesperson, Avi Hyman, did not answer directly, though he did describe the station as “spouting propaganda for many, many years”.


In what may have been a hint that Al Jazeera could have legal recourse against any closure, Hyman added during a briefing: “There’s due process, so we’re not there yet.”

Israel’s communications minister accused the station on Oct. 15 of pro-Hamas incitement and exposing Israeli troops to ambushes. Al Jazeera and the Doha government did not respond to those allegations.

The following month, Israel appeared to spare the Qatari station, instead ordering an end to the local broadcasts of a smaller Lebanese pro-Iranian channel, Al Mayadeen, under emergency media regulations.

The bill due for ratification on Monday passed its first reading in the Knesset in February.

© Reuters. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Jerusalem, February 18, 2024. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/ File photo

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s six-month military offensive in Gaza, including 63 in the past 24 hours, according to the Palestinian health authorities.

In the Oct. 7 attack, Hamas killed 1,200 people and took 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

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