Israel passes bill to ban Al Jazeera

The Israeli parliament approved a bill yesterday that gives ministers the authority to ban the operations of Al Jazeera in the country.

According to Haaretz, the bill received support from 71 lawmakers, while ten opposed it.

Under this law, if the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu determines that content aired by foreign media poses a threat to national security, the communications minister can propose to the government to block the television broadcast of that media in Israel, close its offices, confiscate broadcasting equipment, and restrict its website access under specific conditions.

Netanyahu welcomed the law’s passing, saying: “Al Jazeera has harmed Israel’s security, actively participated in the October 7 massacre, and incited against IDF soldiers. It’s time to remove Hamas’ mouthpiece from our country.”

“The terrorist channel Al Jazeera will no longer broadcast from Israel. I intend to take immediate action in accordance with the new law to halt the channel’s activities,” he added.

Moreover, Israeli communications Minister, Shlomo Karhi, who led the initiative to enact the law, pledged right after the final vote that Al Jazeera would be closed down “in the coming days,” saying “there won’t be freedom of expression for Hamas mouthpieces in Israel.”

He further stated,“We have brought to fruition an effective and swift tool against those who use freedom of the press to harm Israel’s security and IDF soldiers, and who incite to terrorism during a time of war.”

The US condemned the legislation, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre describing the move as “concerning.”

She said: “We believe in the freedom of the press. It is critical. It is critically important, and the United States supports the critically important work journalists do around the world, and that includes those who are reporting on the conflict in Gaza.”

The broadcaster also slammed Netanyahu’s incitement claim as a “dangerous ludicrous lie.” Al Jazeera said yesterday that it holds Netanyahu responsible for the safety of its staff and offices, adding that it would continue what it described as its bold and professional coverage, and that it “reserves the right to pursue every legal step.”

The news network has a team of correspondents working year-round, including covering Israel’s ongoing war on the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 32,900 Palestinians since 7 October.

(Source: MEMO)