Israeli cabinet to hold vote on shutting down Al Jazeera on Thursday

TEL AVIV, May 2 : The Israeli government’s top attorney, Gali Baharav-Miara, has green-lit the path to discontinuing broadcasting by Al Jazeera in Israel, with the war cabinet all but set to vote on the ban this evening, Israeli state-run radio Kan reported on Thursday.

The issues expected to be presented for the cabinet’s approval are stopping the channel’s broadcasting in Arabic and English languages via content-providers in Israel, closing its offices and blocking access to its websites, Kan said.

In early April, the Israeli parliament passed a bill allowing the government to shut down the Qatari-based broadcaster in Israel over alleged security risks. The bill empowers Netanyahu and Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi to issue temporary closure orders for foreign broadcasters in Israel and confiscate their equipment if their activities are deemed harmful to state security, the Israeli parliament said.

Such a ban became possible under emergency regulations approved by the Israeli government in October 2023, in the early phase of renewed hostilities with Palestinian movement Hamas. Although the rules provided Israeli authorities with the ability to shut down broadcasting by foreign TV channels and withdraw media accreditation, not a single foreign media outlet has been closed in the country since then.

At the same time, the security bloc of the Israeli government has on many occasions expressed its belief that Al Jazeera’s broadcasting, in particular its coverage of events in the Gaza Strip, damages Israel’s security. The government has several times raised the issue of closing the TV channel’s office in Israel, but, given the role of Qatar in the hostage release negotiations, the final decision was constantly postponed. (UNI)

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