Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi has put forth an urgent legislative proposal with the intention of closing down the Al Jazeera bureau in Israel. The proposed measure is aimed at taking effect “until the end of the war.” Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based international news channel, holds a significant presence in both Gaza and Israel, making it one of the few global media outlets with a physical presence in these conflict-affected regions.
The relationship between Al Jazeera and Israel has been marked by tensions, with the recent May 2022 killing of veteran Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh serving as a prominent example. Israel has consistently denied any involvement in the journalist’s tragic death.
This move by the Israeli government is not without precedent. In August 2017, Al Jazeera faced similar threats from the Israeli administration. Furthermore, in a broader diplomatic dispute, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Jordan had previously called for the banning of Al Jazeera in their respective countries amid tensions with Qatar.
The proposal by Minister Shlomo Karhi has sparked debate and discussions about freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and media presence in conflict zones. As the legislative process unfolds, it remains to be seen how this measure will be received both domestically and internationally, and how it may impact the broader media landscape in the region.