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Israel Passes Law, Giving Itself Power To Temporarily Shut Down Al Jazeera

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On April 1, 2024, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a sweeping statement indicating the immediate ceasing of Al Jazeera’s operations within Israeli territory. The Prime Minister’s staunch decision followed the legislative green light enhancing the authority of senior ministers to terminate the operations of non-domestic news agencies that are perceived as a potential threat to national security.

Emphasizing his intention to immediately commence action according to newly approved legislation, Netanyahu proclaimed, “Al Jazeera will no longer broadcast from Israel.” The declaration, which received widespread publicity through a post on X, was made right after the final iterations of the law received parliamentary approval.

Netanyahu’s decision can be traced back to an ongoing conflict with the Qatar-based media house, which he accuses of biased reporting against Israel. With a 70-10 majority vote in the Knesset, the legislation empowers the Prime Minister, alongside the Communications Minister, to order the closure of foreign networks in Israel and seize their equipment if identified as a security hazard.

An immediate international reaction to the news came from the White House, where spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre opined that restricting Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel would be “deeply concerning.”

Al Jazeera has denied allegations that its coverage jeopardizes Israel’s security, labeling these claims as “dangerous and ridiculous lies.” The network, known for its critical stance on Israel’s military actions in Gaza, has accused Israeli authorities of deliberately targeting its offices and staff.

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