Al-Jazeera is not feeling much love these days. The Qatari television station, the largest Arab media network, has been attacked in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain – including having its signals blocked in those countries, amidst a broader dispute between those governments and Qatar. Now, Israel has said that the government intends to ban the network inside that country as well because of allegations of supporting terrorism.
The network has particularly irked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said previously stated his intention to seek a ban because of “its continued incitement to violence on the Temple Mount…If it is not possible because of legal interpretations, I will promote the approval of the necessary legislation,” he announced on Facebook.
The closure of Al Jazeera was one of the main demands made two months ago of Qatar for Saudi Arabia and other countries after a political and economic severing with Qatar, which those governments also saw as supporting terrorism.
“Almost every country in our region has recently found that Al Jazeera supports terrorism and religious radicalism,” the Israeli media minister said. “It has become a tool of the Daesh [ISIS], Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran,” Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara concluded.
“There are no restrictions on freedom of expression in Israel. It is full of voices of expression of dissent, “said a source in the Prime Minister’s Office quoted by Reuters. “In democratic countries there are also things that are unacceptable, and a large part of the content of Al Jazeera’s emissions falls into this category.”
The Foreign Press Association in Israel noted through its executive secretary, Glenys Sugarman, that “changing the laws to close a means of communication involves entering a slippery slope.”
The announcement of the measures against Al Jazeera in Israel has emerged following the Palestinian protest that erupted during the second half of July in the Esplanade of the Mosques, the third holiest place for Muslims, and referred to by Israelis as the “Temple Mount.”