Israeli Parliament authorizes Netanyahu to shut down Al Jazeera

JERUSALEM – The Knesset on Monday passed the so-called “Al Jazeera Law” authorizing the Prime Minister to shut down the activities of the Qatari-owned network.

“There will be no freedom of speech for the Hamas trumpets in Israel. Al Jazeera will be closed in the coming days,” said Communications Minister Shlomo Karai, who spearheaded the legislation, which passed by a vote of 71-10.

The bill states that if the prime minister is convinced that a foreign channel is harming the country, the minister of communications, after receiving at least one security opinion and with the approval of the government or the Cabinet, can take action against that channel.

The measures will enable Al Jazeera’s press credentials to be revoked and its transmitters confiscated.

Efforts to ban Al Jazeera gained momentum in February after reporter Mohamed Washah was exposed as a Hamas commander. Soldiers recovered his laptop in northern Gaza and discovered he played a prominent role in the terror group’s anti-armor missile systems.

In October, Al Jazeera was accused of endangering Israeli soldiers by exposing details of where forces were assembling, prompting the Cabinet to approve emergency regulations to temporarily shut down Al Jazeera operations in Israel. While that move received across-the-board support from the security and diplomatic establishment, it was never implemented as Qatar emerged as a mediator between Israel and Hamas for a hostage swap.

At least 1,200 people were killed and 240 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. Of the remaining 134 hostages, Israel recently declared 31 of them dead. (TPS)