Israel today said it plans to ban Qatar’s flagship Al-Jazeera news network from operating in the country, joining regional Arab states that shut down the broadcaster amid allegations that it incites to violence. Communications Minister Ayoob Kara said he plans to revoke the press credentials of Al-Jazeera journalists, effectively preventing them from working in Israel. Kara said he has asked cable and satellite networks to block Al Jazeera transmissions and is seeking legislation to ban them altogether. The minister, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, gave no timetable for such measures. Doha-based Al-Jazeera did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Its Arab and English channels reported the news.
Walid al-Omari, the broadcaster’s bureau chief in Jerusalem, said on air that his office has not been informed by Israeli officials of any possible measures the government might take. Al-Jazeera, a pan-Arab satellite network funded by the Qatari government, already has been targeted by Arab nations now isolating Qatar as part of a months-long political dispute over Doha’s politics and alleged support for extremists. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have recently closed Al-Jazeera’s local offices, while the channel and its affiliate sites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain. “Lately, almost all countries in our region determined that Al-Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization,” Kara said.
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“And when we see that all these countries have determined as fact that Al-Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State (group), Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that then something delusional is happening here.” Israeli officials have long accused Al-Jazeera of bias against the Jewish state. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has likened its coverage to “Nazi Germany-style” propaganda.