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Israel minister pledges to shut Al Jazeera, says country identifies with Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Israel minister pledges to shut Al Jazeera, says country identifies with Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar

Israel has accused Al Jazeera of bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 July, 2017

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Israel's communications minister has pledged to find a way to shut down Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, saying Israel "identifies" with a Saudi-led bloc boycotting Doha.

Israel's communications minister has pledged to shut down Al Jazeera through legislation after the country's premier called for the broadcaster to be kicked out.

Ayoob Kara said late on Sunday that he will hold meeting with ministry officials aimed at ending the Qatari channel's "incitement broadcasts", Israeli daily Maariv reported.

Last week, Binyamin Netanyahu said he wanted to expel Al Jazeera from Israel amid tensions over the sensitive Jerusalem holy site of Haram al-Sharif, which includes the revered al-Aqsa mosque.

Kara said that Israel equated itself with a Saudi-led bloc of Arab countries boycotting Qatar and seeking the closure of Al Jazeera.

"We identify with the moderates in the Arab world who are fighting terrorism and religious extremism," Kara said.

"In Israel, there is no room for a channel that backs terror, just as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and others who have expelled the inciting channel."

"We must join forces and cooperate in the war against channels that preach terror," the minister, who comes from an Arab Druze background, added.

Israel has regularly accused Al Jazeera of bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The minister's comments come amid a Gulf diplomatic crisis involving Qatar and its neighbours.

Regional kingpin Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt broke ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of fostering extremism and later issuing 13 demands, including the shuttering of Al Jazeera and the London-based The New Arab.

Rights groups have "unequivocally" condemned the group's demand to close Al Jazeera and other media outlets that Qatar allegedly funds.

Al Jazeera has condemned the calls for its closure in Israel as "arbitrary accusations and hostile statements."

It added the network would "take all necessary legal measures in case they act on their threat," saying its coverage was professional and objective.

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