Netanyahu Says Israel Will Shut Down Al Jazeera in Israel

Israeli lawmakers passed a law on Monday allowing the government to temporarily shutter foreign media outlets that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has determined undermine the country’s national security, and the Israeli leader said he would use the new law to block Al Jazeera broadcasts and activities in Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu’s government has had a tense relationship with Al Jazeera for years, but the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 escalated tensions. Mr. Netanyahu has called Al Jazeera a “Hamas mouthpiece.”

On Monday, the prime minister said it was time for the Qatar-based network, one of the most widely viewed sources of television news in the Arab world, to stop broadcasting in Israel, although he did not specify when that would happen.

“The terrorist channel Al Jazeera will no longer broadcast from Israel. I intend to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel’s activity,” Mr. Netanyahu posted on X, while recovering from hernia surgery.

Al Jazeera called Netanyahu’s comments “lies that incite against the safety of our journalists around the world.”

“The network stresses that this latest measure comes as part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence Al Jazeera,” it said in a statement, adding that the new law would not “deter us from continuing our bold and professional coverage.”

Under the new law, if the prime minister deems a foreign media outlet to “concretely undermine” Israel’s national security, the government can temporarily close its offices, confiscate its equipment, remove it from Israeli cable and satellite television providers, and block access to any of the channel’s online platforms hosted on servers in Israel or owned by Israeli entities.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedoms around the world, criticized the new law, saying that it “contributes to a climate of self-censorship and hostility toward the press.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, asked about the law during a news briefing in Washington, said that “a move like this is concerning.”

“We believe in the freedom of the press,” she said. “It is critical.”

The new law comes at a critical time in Israel’s relations with Qatar, which has been hosting cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas. The Qatari government, which helps fund Al Jazeera, did not immediately comment.

Anushka Patil contributed reporting.

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