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Cabinet Likely to Approve Netanyahu and Karhi’s Decision to Shut Down Al Jazeera in Israel

Al Jazeera faces closure in Israel (Credits: The Times of Israel)

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has accused the government of intentionally delaying a court hearing to avoid judicial oversight and implement a law aimed at shutting down the Qatari news network Al-Jazeera.

The government requested a two-week delay in response to ACRI’s appeal to the Supreme Court against the law, which was granted. However, reports suggest that the Attorney-General’s Office has given the government the go-ahead to begin implementing the law, raising concerns about bad faith on the part of the government.

Netanyahu pushes to shut Israeli office of Qatar’s Al Jazeera TV (Credits: The Times of Israel)

ACRI argues that the government’s delay tactic is aimed at implementing the law before its constitutionality is determined in court. They have requested an interim order barring the government from beginning the process to implement the law until its constitutionality is determined.

The law, titled “Preventing Foreign Broadcasters From Harming National Security,” allows the government to block foreign media’s television broadcasts, shut down their offices, seize broadcasting equipment, and block their websites if content is deemed to harm national security.

The government’s move to pass the law was reportedly prompted by concerns that Al Jazeera’s broadcasts were revealing the location of military forces and endangering soldiers during the conflict.

However, ACRI argues that the law’s provisions for government approval, periodic review, and judicial oversight mitigate the potential chilling effect on foreign media and safeguard press freedom.

Vote on plan to shutter Al Jazeera (Credits: The Times of Israel)

ACRI acknowledges Al Jazeera’s pro-Palestinian narrative but argues that this alone is not sufficient grounds for shutting down the network. They point out that Al Jazeera provides content from Arab states and includes Israeli Arab perspectives, which are valued and cited in mainstream Israeli media.

The situation underscores the delicate balance between national security concerns and press freedom, with ACRI advocating for rigorous legal scrutiny and oversight to prevent potential abuse of power by the government.

As the government moves to implement the law, the Supreme Court’s decision on ACRI’s appeal will be closely watched as a test of the balance between security imperatives and democratic principles in Israel.

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