Rabat - Israel has announced its intention to close down Al Jazeera’s bureau in Jerusalem and revoke the credentials of its journalists, Israel Minister of Communications Ayoub Kara said on Sunday.
Rabat – Israel has announced its intention to close down Al Jazeera’s bureau in Jerusalem and revoke the credentials of its journalists, Israel Minister of Communications Ayoub Kara said on Sunday.
Kara made the announcement during a press conference from which the Qatari network was barred from attending.
What is striking is that the justification given by the Israeli government to take such an anti-freedom of press move is that it is based on the decision taken by Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, currently boycotting Qatar.
“We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,” said Kara.
The Israeli minister accused the leading news network of being used by groups “to incite violence”.
Kara added that his department will take the necessary steps to ensure the decision will be adopted by the Israeli parliament and then implemented “as quickly as possible”.
The decision was condemned by Al Jazeera in a statement. The Qatari network stated that it will take the necessary measures to oppose this decision taken by a country that claims to be “the only democracy in the Middle East”, adding that it ” will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately”.
Commenting on the decision by the Israeli government, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said that “censoring Al Jazeera or closing its offices will not bring stability to the region, but it would put Israel firmly in the camp of some of the region’s worst enemies of press freedom”.
Al Jazeera’ senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said the Israeli decision reflects a “synergy” between Tel-Aviv and other Arab capitals opposed to Doha.
The ongoing Gulf crisis saw a convergence between Arab states opposed to Qatar and Israel. The Arab states adopted a harsh stance against Al Jazeera, which they demanded to be closed down as part of the
conditions issued to Qatar in order lift the embargo imposed on it. They also accuse the Palestinian movement Hamas of terrorism.
In June, a Saudi analyst made a precedent by appearing on Israeli Channel 2 to criticize Qatar.
“There will be no room for any political movement using religion for political ends or manipulating religion to spread terrorism in the name of resistance or jihad,” said Abdel-Hamid Hakim, the head of the Institute for Middle East Studies in Jeddah.
The same accusation of terrorism was directed against Qatar. The Gulf country was also accused by its neighbors of undermining their national security. These accusations are rejected by Qatar, calling them “unfounded”.