Israel to Revoke Credentials, Close Local Operations of Al Jazeera

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
The Al Jazeera office in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

Kara accused the station of “supporting terrorism” and said cable broadcasters had agreed to his proposal to take the station’s Arabic and English channels off air. Closure of the station’s office would require further legislation, he added.

Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, of the Yerushalayim bureau, said that the request to revoke the credentials cover all the network’s journalists in both the Arabic and English channels.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been threatening to shut Al Jazeera’s operations in the country, accusing the network of inciting violence against Israel.

“The Al Jazeera network continues to stir violence around Har HaBayis,” Netanyahu wrote two weeks ago.

“I have spoken several times to law-enforcement authorities demanding to close Al Jazeera’s offices in Yerushalayim. If this does not happen because of legal interpretation, I will work to enact the required legislation to expel Al Jazeera from Israel,” Netanyahu added.

Al Jazeera has also faced government censure in neighboring Egypt when, in 2014, three Al Jazeera staffers were jailed for seven years and the network’s offices were closed. Two staffers have been released but a third remains imprisoned.

Saudi Arabia and Jordan both shut down Al Jazeera bureaus as part of a coordinated diplomatic and economic campaign against Qatar, base of the Al Jazeera’s headquarters.

Al Jazeera’s signal has also been blocked in the United Arab Emirates.