Saturday, April 13, 2024

Israeli parliament passes law paving way for Al Jazeera ban, Netanyahu vows to “act immediately”

Following the Israeli parliament’s approval of a law enabling senior ministers to close foreign news outlets considered a security threat, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday vowed to shut down Al Jazeera in Israel.

“Al Jazeera will no longer be broadcast from Israel,” Netanyahu wrote in a post on X. “I intend to act immediately following the new law to stop the channel’s activity.”

In a Knesset vote that concluded 70-10, the newly passed law grants the prime minister and the communications minister the power to shut down foreign networks functioning within Israel and seize their equipment, should they be considered to pose “harm to the state’s security”.

Following the post from Netanyahu, Al Jazeera Media Network has released a statement that said it “holds the Israeli prime minister responsible for the safety of its staff and Network premises around the world, following his incitement and this false accusation in a disgraceful manner”.

“Netanyahu could not find any justifications to offer the world for his ongoing attacks on Al Jazeera and Press Freedom except to present new lies and inflammatory slanders against the Network and the rights of its employees,” the statement reads.

“By banning Al Jazeera, Israel has effectively concealed its crimes. Previously, it prevented international journalists, cast doubt on Palestinian footage, and cut communication networks. Al Jazeera provided a small window for exposure, now will be closed,” wrote Ramy Abdu, chairman of Euro-Med Monitor.

“The network stresses that this latest measure comes as part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence Al Jazeera, including the assassination of its correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, the killing of its journalists Samer AbuDaqqa and Hamza AlDahdouh, the bombing of its office in Gaza, the deliberate targeting of a number of Al Jazeera journalists and their family members, and the arrest and intimidation of its correspondents in the field.”

“Al Jazeera reiterates that such slanderous accusations will not deter us from continuing our bold and professional coverage, and reserves the right to pursue every legal step,” the Doha-based news outlet added.

The White House said on Monday that if reports regarding Israel’s attempts to close the news network Al Jazeera are accurate, it would be “concerning.”

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