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Israel has unexpectedly aligned itself with countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in making moves to ban the Al Jazeera news network from operating in the country and in the occupied Palestinian territories.
On Sunday, Israeli communications minister Ayoob Kara announced that press cards for reporters would be revoked, while the offices of the Qatar-owned broadcaster in Jerusalem would be closed and its cable and satellite transmissions shut down.
The move comes just a month after a Saudi-led group of five Arabic countries demanded the closure of Al Jazeera following a major diplomatic rift with Qatar, which it accused of supporting terrorism. Israel’s criticism of Al Jazeera stems from its reports of the Palestinian conflict, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month accusing the network of inciting violence by covering recent events around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
“Lately, almost all countries in our region determined that al-Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalisation,” said Kara. “And when we see that all these countries have determined as fact that Al Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that, then something delusional is happening here.”
In response, Al Jazeera said it “denounces” the decision by Israel, a country it underlined claimed to be the “only democratic state in the Middle East.” It also added that Kara couldn’t substantiate his comments by referring to a “single news bulletin or situation” that showed the broadcaster had failed to reach levels of professionalism or objectivity in its Jerusalem coverage.
Al Jazeera concluded that it would take the “necessary legal measures” and would continue to cover “news and events in the occupied Palestinian territories in a professional and objective manner in accordance with the common journalistic standards set by the relevant international organizations, such as the British Broadcasting Code of Ofcom.”
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