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Israel joins UAE and Egypt with Al Jazeera ban

Binyamin Netanyahu and Ayoub Kara have both said they want Al Jazeera shuttered [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 August, 2017

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Israel's Communications Minister Ayoub Kara says the far-right Netanyahu government is seeking to ban pan-Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera, following the lead of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Israel's ministry of communications says it plans to close the pan-Arab Al Jazeera news network and ban its journalists from reporting in the country.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said a request had been made to revoke the credentials of the Al Jazeera's Arabic and English-language networks.

The announcement was made at a press conference where reporters from the Doha-based broadcaster were banned.

"We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work," Kara said.

Al Jazeera said Israel is also seeking to scramble the network's satellite links to the country, which is widely watched, particularly by Palestinian Israeli citizens.

Israel Prime Minister has threatened to close Al Jazeera over its critical coverage of Israel, particularly during the recent unrest over the restrictions on Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

"I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem," Netanyahu said at the time.

"If this is not possible because of legal interpretation, I am going to seek to have the necessary legislation adopted to expel Al Jazeera from Israel."

The UAE and Egypt have also banned Al Jazeera.

Recently revealed emails of the UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba showed that he had been working with an Israeli-linked think tank.

He had also reportedly helped arrange a secret meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan in New York. 

Human rights groups have condemned the recent censorship on Al Jazeera and other news outlets such as The New Arab.

London-based Ethical Journalism Network Director Aidan White slammed Israel's recent moves to ban Al Jazeera.

"It is a shocking statement, and it completely undermines Israel's claims to be the only democracy in the region, because it gets to the heart of one of the most important institutions of democracy," he said, according to the pan-Arab broadcaster.

"This attack on Al Jazeera is really an attack on all critical independent journalism."

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