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Al Jazeera in Crosshairs of New Anti-Terror Media Law

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi during a discussion and a vote in the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on March 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi during a discussion and a vote in the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on March 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset on Monday approved a new law giving the government the authority to shut down foreign media companies that are determined to be a security threat. The legislation is widely believed to be aimed at restricting the news reporting of the Al Jazeera network.

The measure, ratified with a 71 – 10 vote, allows the country’s communication minister to implement broadcast bans, office closures, equipment seizures, and internet blockages for any “content provider” that disseminates information causing "real harm to state security."

The authority will be enforced using 45-day intervals and requires confirmation from the prime minister, security cabinet, and a district court.

The directive has a sunset provision of July 31 or when the war in Gaza ends.

Shortly after passage, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that "The terrorist channel Al Jazeera will no longer broadcast from Israel," and that he intended "to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel's activity."

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, released a statement saying that he would exercise his new powers “in the coming days.”

Karhi and other officials in Jerusalem have long accused the Qatar based news agency of incitement, spreading jihadist propaganda, and even passing sensitive information to the Jewish state’s enemies.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the action, telling reporters that the effort “is concerning to us.”

Related Story: Al Jazeera Removes Story Accusing IDF of Rapes in Gaza

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