Netanyahu considers closing Al Jazeera offices in Jerusalem

BETHLEHEM/PNN/

As the Gulf crisis intensifies and Qatar continues to be besieged by Saudi Arabia and several other countries Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering closing down Al Jazeera’s offices in occupied Jerusalem.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynetnews) revealed today that Netanyahu, a team coordinating with the state press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Shin Bet have begun studying the details of the closure, which will be similar to the punitive measures taken by Saudi Arabia and Jordan against the Qatar-based network.

Netanyahu’s move coincides with calls by a number of leaders on the Israeli right – led by the settler Baruch Marzel – to close down Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem office. Marzel stormed the office and posted a banner demanding the Israeli authorities close the office in occupied Jerusalem.

A few days ago extremists stood at the entrance to the floor on which the office is located. One of them said: “It is time for the government of Israel to close down the office of Al Jazeera, which is a branch of ISIS [Daesh], and deport its employees to Qatar.”

The newspaper suggested that the Israeli establishment is seeking to exploit the regional situation triggered by the Gulf crisis to close the offices of Al Jazeera, especially as the channel previously damaged Israel’s image, according to Ynetnews.

It is expected that Netanyahu’s decision will be widely supported – in recent years there have been a number of demands for Al Jazeera offices in Jerusalem to close but these were rejected as Israel feared it would tarnish their reputation globally.

If Al Jazeera’s office is closed down in Jerusalem the newspaper has said it will appeal to the Supreme Court.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has joined the Saudi-led incitement campaign against the news network. On Monday he went further when he pointed out that Israel, as well as some Arab countries, considered Al Jazeera to be a threat that produces Nazi-style propaganda.

Israeli media report that Netanyahu’s move against Al Jazeera in Jerusalem comes at the same time as the decision by the Israeli cabinet to reduce the electricity supply to the Gaza Strip. In April President Mahmoud Abbas requested that Israel stop supplying electricity to Gaza.