Qatar-based media organisation Al Jazeera said on Monday (August 7) it would legally challenge Israel’s decision to shut down the network in Jerusalem, calling it an attack on independent journalism.

The move by Israel was an attempt to “muzzle and silence” journalism, Al Jazeera Senior Correspondent Jamal El-Shyal told Reuters in an interview at the company’s London office.

Israel said on Sunday it planned to revoke the media credentials of Al Jazeera TV journalists and close the network’s Jerusalem bureau.

The decision adds further pressure on Qatar, which is already involved in a dispute in the region. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have all severed diplomatic and commercial ties with their Arab neighbor.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call to shut Qatari media company Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem for incitement to violence has been translated into action, Israel’s Communications Minister Ayoub Kara announced on Sunday.

Kara said he is holding “professional discussions” in his ministry’s legal department, as well as with the Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting, to draft a bill that would close the cable networks’ Israel studio.

Kara, however, pointed to the broader Middle Eastern context of the move, in that Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries have called to shut down Al Jazeera entirely, as part of their pressure on the Qatari regime. The countries campaigning against Qatar are not democracies that purport to have a free press.

“We identify with the moderates in the Arab World who are fighting terrorism and religious extremism,” Kara said. “Here in Israel, there is no place for a channel that backs terrorism either. We will act like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and more, which expelled the inciting channel from their countries.

“We need to join forces and cooperate in the war against channels that preach terrorism,” he said.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.


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