Communications Minister Ayoub Kara vowed on Thursday to halt Qatari-funded international news channel Al Jazeera’s local operations despite the obstacles.
“I will close Al Jazeera, period, no matter what it costs me,” Kara told The Jerusalem Post. “If they want to open their mouths, they can do it at the dentist. They should stop taking advantage of freedom of expression in Israel.”
Kara and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have sought to close the channel in recent weeks, saying the Arabic-language change incited violence during the recent Arab rioting around the Temple Mount.
According to Kara, Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel should be shut down because “they crossed the line of free speech and are part of terrorism; all the countries in the region say so, and because of our delusions of free speech over security, we are playing into their hands.
“Freedom of speech is very important, as long as it doesn’t violate our security. Security is more important. Without security, we won’t have a country left,” Kara said.
On Thursday, the Government Press Office held a seminar in Jerusalem on Freedom of the Press. The event featured a panel discussion on “The limits of freedom of expression – the dilemma between security and press freedom,” in which Al Jazeera Jerusalem Bureau chief Walid al-Omari was meant to take part, but did not.
Netanyahu intervened on Wednesday night, and the GPO posted on its Facebook page that the prime minister instructed GPO Director Nitzan Chen not to allow Omari to participate.
In addition, the GPO wrote that “the prime minister instructed [us] to continue taking legal steps to revoke press cards from all Al Jazeera reporters in Israel and close its offices in Israel.
Last month, the GPO held a hearing for Al Jazeera reporter Elias Karram, citing an interview in which he said that, as a journalist, he is part of the Palestinian “resistance.”
However, following the hearing, the GPO decided to let him keep his press card.
Kara shrugged off this obstacle, saying, “If someone has authority and doesn’t use it, it doesn’t mean I accept that.”