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Thursday, 20 June 2024 9.09 AM IST

Al Jazeera channel to be shut down, Israel's cabinet takes unanimous decision

al-jazeera

TEL AVIV: The Israeli cabinet has decided to shut down Al Jazeera channel's operations in the country. The decision regarding this was taken by the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a statement released by the government, the cabinet voted unanimously to shut down Al Jazeera's operations in the country.

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi signed an executive order immediately after the vote passed, and it thus came into effect right away. In a video statement, Karhi called Al Jazeera a "Hamas incitement organ."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also posted on X, "The government under my leadership decided unanimously: The incitement channel Al Jazeera will be shut down in Israel."

The decision, which requires recertification every 45 days, includes shutting down Al Jazeera broadcasts in Arabic and English; shutting down Al Jazeera's offices in Israel; seizing equipment used for its broadcasts; and limiting access to its websites, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the decision was based on a law that Israel's Knesset (parliament) passed on April 2, which expires on July 31. The legislation will therefore need to be extended if the government wishes to extend the decision beyond that date.

The law itself is also facing a constitutional challenge in the High Court of Justice by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) based on its violation of free speech, and the state has until May 15 to file its preliminary response to the court.

The government passed emergency executive measures at the start of the war that would have enabled it to shut down Al Jazeera temporarily. These were in effect from October 21 until January 20.

However, the government refrained from implementing these measures during that period, reportedly due to possible negative diplomatic ramifications relating to Qatar, which was and continues to be a mediator between Israel and Hamas in negotiations for a deal to free Israeli hostages.

The legislation that passed in April's intention was to give the cabinet firmer legal footing to move against Al Jazeera, The Jerusalem Post reported.

In its decision on Sunday, the cabinet explained that it had classified opinions from the Shin Bet on April 9 deeming Al Jazeera a national security threat. The IDF and Mossad also provided classified opinions supporting limiting Al Jazeera's broadcasts in Israel.

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