Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday that he backs the idea of closing the Israel bureau of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Network. “There is no reason for Al-Jazeera to continue to transmit from Israel,” claimed the far-right politician. “It is not media, it is a propaganda outfit in the style of the Soviets or Nazi Germany.”
According to Lieberman, “all” of Al-Jazeera’s reporting on Israel is “biased and hostile”, while the channel “says nothing about Iran.”
Responding to a question about when the channel’s bureau could be closed, the minister stressed that the Israeli authorities must find a “legal solution”, which suggested that the move could take some time.
According to Israeli media, Al-Jazeera officials in Israel will appeal to the High Court of Justice against any decision to shut their office down, citing freedom of the press.
Israeli leaders accuse the Qatari channel of supporting Hamas, which is the de facto authority in the Gaza Strip and which Israel considers to be an enemy entity. Al-Jazeera denies any bias.
Last Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also raised the possibility of closing Al-Jazeera’s bureau in Israel. Local reports claim that the government press office, foreign ministry and defence establishment are working on the matter.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt broke off relations with Qatar on 5 June, accusing it of “supporting terrorism”. The unprecedented move includes a ban on Al-Jazeera for its alleged “Islamist” orientations.
Al-Jazeera has nearly 80 offices around the world and broadcasts in several languages.