Communications minister extends order banning Al Jazeera in Israel for 45 more days

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Police raid the Al Jazeera offices in Jerusalem on May 5, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Police raid the Al Jazeera offices in Jerusalem on May 5, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi extends the orders banning the broadcast of the Al Jazeera news network in Israel and blocking access to its website for a new, 45-day period.

According to a statement by Karhi’s office, the decision was adopted unanimously by the cabinet after security agencies submitted updated position papers “which unambiguously determined that the broadcasts of the channel constitute actual harm to state security.”

Karhi points out that the judge who last week reviewed the original ban issued on May 5 wrote in his ruling that there was “no room for doubt” that Al Jazeera content serves Hamas’s goals “and does significant harm to state security.”

Karhi’s order, which requires the approval of the prime minister, a vote in cabinet, and review by a district court within three days, is based on a temporary law passed in April allowing the government to shut down a foreign news outlet for a 45-day period if the security services deem that outlet to be causing “actual harm” to Israeli national security.

The temporary bans can be renewed for further periods of up to 45 days until the law expires on July 31, after which the legislation would need to be extended if the government wishes to continue banning the outlet.

Karhi’s office has not responded to questions regarding whether the government intends to extend the law.

Earlier on Sunday, the High Court of Justice took up a petition against the law that argues that the measure violates constitutional principles of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and ordered the government to respond by August 8. Alternatively, the court said that if the government will not be extending the law it can simply give notice to that effect.

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