Israel has announced plans to close the local offices of Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based international news network. Israeli officials have long accused the broadcaster of bias against the Jewish state.
Israel's communications minister announced on Sunday that he wanted to shut down the operations of Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera in the country.
Ayoob Kara said he wanted the press cards of employees of the network revoked and to have their Jerusalem office closed, adding that he had asked cable providers to block Al-Jazeera's transmissions. He said that cable broadcasters had agreed to his proposal to take the station's Arabic and English channels off the air. Closure of the station's office would require further legislation, he added.
Kara claimed that the station was used by militant groups to "incite" violence, accusing the network of "supporting terrorism" and saying that it was "delusional" that Arab states in the Middle East had banned Al-Jazeera for that reason but Israel had not.
"Lately, almost all countries in our region determined that Al-Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization," Kara said. "And when we see that all these countries have determined as fact that Al-Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that, then something delusional is happening here," he said.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia have closed Al-Jazeera's local offices, while the channel and its affiliate sites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.
The latter four Arab states have included shutting down Al-Jazeera in a list of demands made to Qatar, which they accuse of supporting extremists.
Netanyahu resolute to ban Al-Jazeera
There was no timetable given for the implementation of the measures.
Israeli officials have long accused Al-Jazeera of showing bias against the Jewish state. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has likened its coverage to "Nazi Germany-style" propaganda, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently accused the Arab satellite news broadcaster of "incitement" to violence.
"The Al-Jazeera channel continues to incite violence around the Temple Mount," Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post on July 27, referring to the religious site in Jerusalem that is holy to both Muslims and Jews. The site saw violent clashes in recent weeks.
Netanyahu has, however, frequently criticized news media in general, accusing various outlets of seeking to undermine his government.
ss/tj (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)