Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would look for ways to shutter the presence of satellite news station al-Jazeera in Israel, accusing the Qatar-based channel of inciting violence.
In a Facebook post Wednesday night, Netanyahu said he had asked law enforcement authorities to shut down the station’s Israel offices a number of times.
“Al-Jazeera has not stopped fomenting violence around the Temple Mount,” he said, referring to escalating tensions surrounding Muslim protests against Israeli security measures at the holy site. There were put in place following a July 14 terror attack in which three terrorists shot two Israeli policemen to death with weapons they had smuggled onto the compound. Israel shut the site for two days and re-opened it with new security arrangements including metal detectors and cameras.
Netanyahu said that he would turn to lawmakers to have al-Jazeera’s Jerusalem office shut down if it was not closed “because of legal interpretation.”
“I will act to legislate the needed laws to remove al-Jazeera from Israel,” he wrote.
There was no immediate reaction from al-Jazeera to Netanyahu’s post, which came a day after a survey found 77% of Israelis said he had capitulated with his decision to remove metal detectors that had been set up at entrances to the Temple Mount in the wake of the shooting attack nearly two weeks ago.
A number of Arab countries have recently shut down their local al-Jazeera offices amid an ongoing spat with Qatar but Israel, which often touts its press freedoms, has allowed the station to continue operating.
After Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other states announced they were imposing sanctions on Doha and the station in June, Netanyahu reportedly met with Israeli officials to explore the possibility of shutting down the station in Israel.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said at the time that the diplomatic isolation of Qatar had provided Israel with an “opportunity” to get rid of al-Jazeera and win points with potential Gulf allies.
“Some [Arab countries’] interests overlap with Israeli interests, including the issue with al-Jazeera,” Liberman said last month.
“Al-Jazeera is not media, it’s not journalism. It’s an incitement machine. It’s pure propaganda, of the worst variety, in the style of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia,” he added.