Benjamin Netanyahu blocks al Jazeera from attending freedom of speech event

Decision is latest in moves to shutter Qatari news channel’s operations in Israel after allegations its reports are used to ‘incite violence’ 

Thursday 07 September 2017 13:30
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The move follows a similar decision by Arab states in their diplomatic rift with Qatar, which owns the news organisation
The move follows a similar decision by Arab states in their diplomatic rift with Qatar, which owns the news organisation

Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau chief has been banned from a state-sponsored event on freedom of speech at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it has emerged.

The prime minister's office order that Walid Al-Omar was prevented from attending the seminar, the government press office confirmed on Thursday.

“The prime minister instructed that legal steps be taken to deny press passes of all Al Jazeera journalists working in Israel and to close their offices in Israel,” the GPO said in a public Facebook post.

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Mr Netanyahu's decision to double down on limiting the freedoms of Al Jazeera’s reporters comes after an announcement from the country’s communication minister Ayoub Kara last month that the authorities intended to revoke the press credentials of the networks’ journalists.

The move follows a similar decision by Arab states in their diplomatic rift with Qatar, which owns the organisation.

Mr Kara said that al Jazeera was also being used to “incite violence” in Israel and the Palestinian Territories - a claim strongly denied by the network.

The decision was blasted by the Israel Union of Journalists, who called it an “intolerable move in a democracy”.

Officials from Israel’s foreign ministry also warned that shuttering or sanctioning al Jazeera would greatly damage the country’s image abroad.

After a hearing, the government press office decides against revoking the accreditation of one Arab-Israeli correspondent who called his work part of Palestinian “resistance against the occupation” in an interview with a Muslim Brotherhood friendly news channel.

Both Mr Netanyahu and Mr Kara have continued to publicly push for measures to be taken against Al Jazeera and its journalists.

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