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Israel's plans to close Al Jazeera nothing more than 'ink on paper'

Al Jazeera continues to operate in Israel despite reports that Israel has closed the station down, Haaretz has reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had praised Minister of Communications Ayoub Kara announcement yesterday that Israel plans to revoke media credentials of Al Jazeera journalists and close the network's office in Jerusalem. However, the newspaper said this plan was nothing more than "ink on paper".

The decision to revoke the journalists' credentials would be a transgression of powers on the part of the minister. In order for this step to be taken, the security services will have to make a recommendation to abolish press permits.

Nitzan Chen, the director of the Government Press Office, explained that "according to our procedures, such credentials are only denied when the director believes, after consultation with the security services, that they might constitute a threat to national security."

Read: Israel is sleepwalking towards tyranny not practising democracy

Image of Israeli Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara on 31 October 2012 [Remi Jouan/Wikipedia]

Israeli Minister of Communications Ayoub Kara on 31 October 2012 [Remi Jouan/Wikipedia]

"I have contacted a number of agencies and asked for their professional opinion about Al Jazeera," Chen continued. He is now awaiting their response and until that time documents would not be revoked without an organised public hearing as defined in the regulations, he explained.

Kara is also trying to persuade broadcast companies, via cable networks and satellite companies, to stop transmitting Al Jazeera.

The minister declared that he had contacted these companies directly and that they "expressed their willingness to consider stopping Al Jazeera broadcasts" however they had not translated their words into actions.

Even if the minister's attempt was a success, most of Al Jazeera's audiences do not rely on closed-air networks or national satellites, but on satellite dishes that receive hundreds of channels from Arab countries and which the Israeli authorities have no control over.

Read more: End of Al Jazeera, a dark day for the Middle East

Kara's third attempt was to address the Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, and ask him to use his power to close the offices of Al Jazeera in Israel.

However, he replied that this should be directed to the police.

The police then turned Kara back to "the Ministry of Public Security or the Ministry of Communications."

In light of the continual failures that the Israeli communications minister has encountered, he announced that he intends to "push for amending the law". However, such legislative process can only begin after the Knesset holds a session at the end of next October. Until then, it must pass through government ministries and be approved by the Attorney-General who will have to decide if this amendment is constitutional and does not impede freedom of expression.

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