Published: 2017-08-07 14:59
Last Updated: 2017-08-07 15:07
Al Jazeera has condemned Israel’s plan to revoke media credentials of Al Jazeera journalists and close the network's office in Jerusalem, arguing that the measure "undermines” Israeli claims to be the sole democracy in the Middle East and that it will take legal action.
This comes after Communications Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) announced on Sunday that Israel would revoke the press credentials of Al Jazeera journalists, effectively preventing them from working in the country, as well as shutting down their Jerusalem bureau and preventing broadcasting on Israel's satellite networks.
"We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work," Kara said.
Kara added that he expects Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to consider the request in the next session.
"I will go through the [legislatorial] mechanism to create the authority in which I can act freely. We will try to end it as quickly as possible."
The announcement was a response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call to remove the media network from Israel, with his most recent attack on July 27 accusing the network of "inciting violence".
Al Jazeera challenged Kara's claims in their statement:
"During the press conference, the minister could not substantiate his comments by referring to a single news bulletin or situation that proved Al Jazeera had not been professional nor objective during its coverage in Jerusalem."
It added criticised "the justifications made by the minister of communications as odd and biased as they are in unison with the actions carried out by a number of Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and Jordan) that have closed the network's bureaus, shut down its cable and satellite transmissions, and blocked its websites and applications."
"Al Jazeera denounces this decision made by a state that claims to be "the only democratic state in the Middle East," the statement says. The network also warned that "it will closely watch the developments that may result from the Israeli decision and will take the necessary legal measures towards it.
The statement concludes: "Al Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by international agencies, such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom)."
The Committee to Protect Journalists has also condemned the Israeli decision as “undemocratic.”
"Censoring Al Jazeera or closing its offices will not bring stability to the region, but it would put Israel firmly in the camp of some of the region's worst enemies of press freedom," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Programme Coordinator Sherif Mansour said in a statement.
"Israel should abandon these undemocratic plans and allow Al Jazeera and all journalists to report freely from the country and areas it occupies," it said.