Israel preparing to close Al Jazeera offices: minister

Israeli minister asks for closure of Al Jazeera's offices in Jerusalem

Israel has confirmed that it is seeking to shut down Al Jazeera's offices in Jerusalem and revoke the credential of its journalists, according to a statement by the Israeli communications minister.

The Israeli move adds further pressure on Qatar, which has been involved in a dispute with four of its Arab neighbours.

Al Jazeera has condemned the decision.

Kara said the measures were meant to bolster Israel's security and "to bring a situation that channels based in Israel will report objectively".

The move follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call for the station's offices to be shut down, accusing it of inflaming tensions around Al-Aqsa mosque, the Jerusalem holy site where Palestinians staged an nearly two-week protest last month against Israeli security measures installed after a deadly shootout.

"We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work".

The Israel government is planning to take action against Al Jazeera's local offices in Israel and wants to revoke the licenses provided to its journalists.

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"The Al Jazeera network continues to stir violence around Har HaBayis", Netanyahu wrote two weeks ago. "There is a lot being broadcast on that channel that is frankly unsafe", the official said. There are plenty of dissenting voices.

Al Jazeera has fiercely defended its reputation and says it is independent.

Palestinians refused to enter the site for almost two weeks over the new security measures imposed after three Israeli Arabs shot dead the policemen nearby.

Regional kingpin Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt broke ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of fostering extremism and later issuing 13 demands, including Al-Jazeera's closure. The move was harshly criticized by the Qatari broadcaster.

'And when we see that all these countries have determined as fact that Al Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that, then something delusional is happening here'. "Changing the law in order to shut down a media organization for political reasons is a slippery slope", Glenys Sugarman, executive secretary for the group, told the Times of Israel.

Al Jazeera has come under attack from several governments in the region in recent months to the concern of free press campaigners. Two staffers have been released but a third remains imprisoned.

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