Israel’s Knesset Passes Law Allowing Netanyahu to Shut Down Al Jazeera

A reporter from the Arabic television channel Al-Jazeera holds a microphone during an inte
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a law Tuesday that will allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shut down Al Jazeera, an outlet that has broadcast anti-Israel propaganda and has even been linked to terrorism in Gaza.

Israeli government spokesman David Mencer said afterwards: “Freedom of the press, yes; freedom for jihadis, no.”

The Times of Israel reported:

The Knesset approved on Monday evening the so-called Al Jazeera law, giving the government temporary powers to prevent foreign news networks from operating in Israel if they are deemed by the security services to be harming national security.

The law passed 71 to 10 in its second and third readings in the Knesset plenum.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, who spearheaded the effort to pass the law, vowed immediately after the final vote that the Qatari-funded Al Jazeera news channel would be closed down “in the coming days,” saying “there won’t be freedom of expression for Hamas mouthpieces in Israel.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre appeared to warn Israel on Monday against the law, citing “reports” it would be passed:

But it — if it is true — if it is true, a move like this is concerning. We believe in the freedom of the press. It is critical. It is critically important. And the United States supports the critically important work journalists around the world do. And so — and that includes those who are reporting in — in the conflict in Gaza.

So, we believe that work is important, the freedom of the press is important. And if those reports are true, it is concerning to us.

Al Jazeera has operated in Israel for years, despite producing content that, critics say, encourages hatred for Israel in the Arab world. In the ongoing Gaza conflict, Al Jazeera has published false and incendiary claims against Israel. Last week, the outlet was forced to retract a story in which it claimed, falsely, that Israeli soldiers were raping women in Gaza’s Shifa Hospital. Al Jazeera has also tried to suppress Palestinian views that are opposed to Hamas in Gaza.

Worse still, Al Jazeera journalists have been linked directly to terrorism. In February, Israel produced evidence that an Al Jazeera journalists was also doing double-duty as a commander in a Hamas anti-tank unit. In January, the IDF killed an Al Jazeera stringer in an airstrike on a terrorist vehicle. Al Jazeera said Israel was trying to kill journalists, but Israel said the journalist was also a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, riding with a terrorist drone operator.

Al Jazeera’s role as a news organization has been debated for more than two decades. It is controlled by the Qatari government, which has also been involved in hosting and funding terrorists (as well as U.S. military bases). It has produced coverage critical of other Arab regimes, creating room for debate, but has also amplified radical narratives.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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