Knesset approves bill to shut down Al Jazeera in Israel

New law approved in second and third reading stipulates Communications Minister could act against foreign media channels in Israel should they be found to harm the country; White House spokeswoman criticizes bill

The Knesset approved Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi’s bill ordering Qatari news network Al Jazeera to cease its operations in the country in a final reading on Monday. "Hamas mouthpieces won’t have any freedom of expression in Israel. Al Jazeera will be shut down in the coming days,” Karhi said in a statement.
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משרדי אל ג'זירה בקטאר
משרדי אל ג'זירה בקטאר
(Photo: AP)
The law promoted by Karhi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shut down foreign channels (including Al Jazeera, Al Mayadeen, and others), was approved by the Knesset Plenum in second and third readings.
The law stipulates the Communications Minister could act to shut down foreign media channels in the country should the prime minister find it is harming Israel after reviewing at least one security assessment on the issue and conditioned by the approval of the government or security cabinet.
Actions will be approved by orders signed by the Communications Minister, and will include: closing down the channel's offices in the country, confiscating broadcasting equipment, preventing channel reporters from broadcasting, removing the channel from cable and satellite providers in the country, blocking its websites in the country, and more.
"We have approved a quick and efficient tool to act against those who use the freedom of the press to harm Israel's security and IDF soldiers and incite terrorism during wartime," Karhi said in a statement following the law’s approval.
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שלמה קרעי
שלמה קרעי
שלמה קרעי
(צילום: אלכס קולומויסקי)
Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the law on social media, writing on his X account: "Al Jazeera has harmed Israel's security, actively participated in the October 7 massacre, and incited violence against IDF soldiers. The time has come to remove Hamas' mouthpiece from our country. The terrorist channel Al Jazeera will no longer broadcast from Israel. I intend to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel's activities.”
Despite Netanyahu’s praise, other members of his Likud party criticized the bill’s wordings. "The bill as presented by the Communications Minister is both ineffective and damaging," Likud MK Amit Halevi told Ynet. "It’s absurd that our coalition will vote in favor of such a bill. It primarily reflects an extreme lack of judgment aimed at gaining popularity."
According to Halevi, the approved law in its current form isn’t effective. "The overwhelming majority of Al Jazeera viewers in Israel’s Arab sector watch it via satellite dishes or the internet, not Israeli broadcasters. The agency’s internet servers and offices will reopen in Ramallah if shut down in Israel.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the law in a statement, saying, “We believe in the freedom of the press. It is critical. It is critically important, and the United States supports the critically important work of journalists around the world, and that includes those who are reporting 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," she added.
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