The Government Press Office revoked the credentials of an Al Jazeera reporter Wednesday for allegedly being an “active partner in Palestinian resistance” amid Israeli efforts to boot the network from the country.
The GPO said the decision to strip Jerusalem correspondent Elias Karram of his press card came after it was alerted this week to a 2016 interview in which the Arab Israeli reporter said “media work is an integral part of the resistance.”
“As a Palestinian journalist in an occupied area or in a conflict zone, media work is an integral part of the resistance and its educational political activity,” Karram said in the interview, according to a translation provided by the GPO. “The journalist fulfills his role in the opposition with the pen, voice or camera because he is part of this people and he carries out resistance in his unique way.”
The GPO said that a hearing will be held for Karram to clarify his comments and how his role as a self-declared member of the “resistance” influences “his work as a journalist according to universal ethics.”
“These remarks call into question the ability of Karram, the representative of a foreign network, to cover – as a professional journalist – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which, according to his own words, he is taking an active part,” the GPO said in a statement.
Al Jazeera declined to immediately comment on the move.
The Union of Journalists in Israel called the revocation of Karrem’s press card “intolerable.”
“The planned move by the Government Press Office, which does not at all claim incitement or harm to the state’s security, is not only an attack on Elias Karrem but an attack on the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of press and the ability of reporters to faithfully serve the public.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that he wants to expel the Qatari broadcaster from the country, accusing it of inciting violence.
Netanyahu made the comments as tensions soared over metal detectors Israel installed at entrances to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem following a terror attack outside the compound last month, in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two police officers using weapons smuggled into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
At the time, Al Jazeera condemned what it called “arbitrary accusations and hostile statements.”
It added the network would “take all necessary legal measures in case they act on their threat,” saying its coverage was professional and objective.
On August 6, Communications Minister Ayoob Kara followed up on Netanyahu’s comments by saying he would take steps to close Al Jazeera’s offices in Israel.
He accused the broadcaster of “inciting violence which has provoked losses among the best of our sons,” referring to the July 14 attack.
The GPO’s move to revoke the press card for Karram marks the first concrete action against the broadcaster since Netanyahu’s remarks.
The GPO statement on Wednesday said Kara recently requested that “the press cards of Al Jazeera personnel in Israel be revoked on the grounds that the network was inciting and agitating to violence in a way that harmed the security of the state.”
Amnesty International has said Israel’s move against the broadcaster is a “brazen attack on media freedom.”