Israel Begins Process of Closing Al Jazeera Office Over Protests

Al Jazeera to be blocked in Israel

News The Al Jazeera newsroom in Doha Qatar. Image Jan Kuhlmann DPA PA Images

"We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work", said Israel's Media Minister Ayoub Kara.

These Arab states accuse Qatar of backing terrorism and have demanded the shutdown of Qatari-funded Al Jazeera.

"Freedom of expression is not freedom to incite", he said, according to a ministry statement.

Israel plans to revoke press credentials of Al-Jazeera TV journalists, close their Jerusalem bureau and pull the Qatar-based station's broadcasts from local cable and satellite providers, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said on Sunday.

"Lately, nearly all countries in our region determined that Al-Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization", Kara said.

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Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera senior political analyst, said the latest move by Israel shows a "synergy" of "dictatorships" in the Arab world and "dictatorship of military occupation in Palestine".

Al Jazeera journalists have been arrested in Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan have shut down its offices in their respective countries.

An Al Jazeera official in the Qatari capital Doha told AFP that the channel "deplores this action from a state that is called the only democratic state in the Middle East, and considers what it has done is dangerous".

"Al-Jazeera will follow the folder through legal procedures and appropriate legal", he said.

Al Jazeera's English newsroom in Doha, Qatar.

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Journalists working for the station in Israel said they did not expect imminent moves against them and Walid al-Omari, the broadcaster's bureau chief in Jerusalem, said his office has not been informed by Israeli officials of any possible measures the government might take. He said "Therefore, I have contacted the security echelon and have requested a professional opinion regarding the Al-Jazeera network". "This attack on Al Jazeera is really an attack on all critical independent journalism".

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has also claimed Al Jazeera has recently incited violence among Palestinians over restrictions on visiting Jersualem holy site al-Aqsa Mosque.

"Changing the law to shut down a media organization is a slippery slope", the group's executive secretary, Glenys Sugarman, said in a telephone interview.

Al Jazeera has come under attack from several governments in the region in recent months to the concern of free press campaigners.

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