Netanyahu government moves to permanently ban Al Jazeera

Committee votes to back bill that would make ban on Qatar-based network permanent, barring Al Jazeera from operating in Israel.

By World Israel News Staff

The Netanyahu government is moving forward with legislation that if passed would permanently ban the Al Jazeera television network from operating in Israeli territory.

On Sunday, the powerful Ministerial Committee for Legislation – made up of government ministers and empowered to bind Coalition members to vote in favor of bills – gave its backing to an amendment to the recently-passed “Al Jazeera Law,” which enables the Communications Minister to temporarily shut down media outlets during wartime should they be deemed a threat to national security.

The original bill was passed by the Knesset in April, with a majority of 71 MKs in the 120-member Knesset, drawing support even from some members of the Opposition.

A month later, Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi announced plans to shutter Al Jazeera and revoke the agency’s press credentials.

Earlier this month, Karhi extended the ban for an additional 45 days.

The current law allows for temporary bans of up to 45 days at a time, which can be extended only during wartime or other national emergencies. The law itself has a time limit, and will, unless extended, end on July 31st.

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The Israeli Supreme Court has accepted a petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel against the closure of Al Jazeera, however, pressing the government to shorten the ban against the channel.

In response, Likud MK Ariel Kallner drafted a bill to enable the Communications Minister, with the backing of the Justice Minister, to permanently ban a media channel.

“Israel has faced serious security threats since its founding and is expected to continue to face them in the future, it cannot afford to allow a foreign broadcasting organization to seriously harm its security,” Kallner said in support of his bill.