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PM moves to shut down Al Jazeera TV in Israel

Israel says Al Jazeera TV has been encouraging hostilities towards it.

Israel says Al Jazeera TV has been encouraging hostilities towards it. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has revived moves to shutter Qatari satellite television station Al Jazeera in Israel, pledging to take “immediate action” to close the station’s local office while the war in Gaza continues.

Hours after his party spokesperson said parliament would be convened to ratify the necessary law, the Knesset approved the bill allowing the temporary closure in Israel of foreign broadcasters considered to be a threat to national security.

The law approved on Monday would allow Netanyahu and the security cabinet to shut the station for a period of 45 days, which would be renewable, and would stay in force until the end of July or until the end of major military operations in Gaza.

Neither the station’s main office in Israel nor the Qatari government in Doha immediately responded to a request for comment. Al Jazeera, which has been fiercely critical of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, has previously accused Israel of systematically targeting its offices and personnel.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karai accused Al Jazeera of encouraging hostilities against Israel. “It is impossible to tolerate a media outlet, with press credentials from the government press office and with offices in Israel, acting from within against us, certainly in wartime,” he said.

Israeli officials have long complained about Al Jazeera’s coverage, but stopped short of taking action, mindful of Qatar’s bankrolling of Palestinian construction projects in the Gaza Strip – seen by all sides as a means of staving off conflict.

—AAP

Topics: Israel
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