Israeli communications minister Ayoob Kara announced on Sunday that press cards for the company’s reporters would be revoked, a move which comes shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to close Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem office after criticizing the way the network handled reports of the Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu accused the network of inciting violence during its coverage of the Al-Aqsa Mosque incident.
The decision sees Israel align itself with neighbouring nations Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, which have all severed their diplomatic ties with Qatar after asserting that the country funds terrorism, an accusation that Qatar steadfastly denies.
“Lately almost all countries in our region determined that Al Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalisation,” said Kara. “And when we see that all these countries have determined as fact that Al Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that, then something delusional is happening here.”
Al Jazeera, the Middle East’s largest broadcaster which has 80 offices around the world, has since denounced the decision made by “a state that claims to be ‘the only democratic state in the Middle East.’”
The network said on its website that it “finds the justifications made by the minster of communications as odd and biased as they are in unison with the actions carried out by a number of Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan) that have closed the network’s bureau’s, shut down its cable and satellite transmissions and blocked its websites and applications.”
It said it would “continue to cover news and events in the occupied Palestinian territories in a professional and objective manner in accordance with the common journalistic standards set by the relevant international organisations, such as the British Broadcasting Code of Ofcom.”