Law allowing shuttering of Al Jazeera in Israel passes final Knesset readings

File: Employee of Qatar based news network and TV channel Al-Jazeera is seen at the outlet's Jerusalem office on July 31, 2017 (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
File: Employee of Qatar based news network and TV channel Al-Jazeera is seen at the outlet's Jerusalem office on July 31, 2017 (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

The so-called Al Jazeera law, which gives the government temporary powers to prevent foreign news networks from operating in Israel if they are deemed to be harming national security, passed its second and third readings in the Knesset plenum.

Praising the law’s passage, Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi says, “There will be no freedom of speech for Hamas mouthpieces in Israel. Al Jazeera will be closed in the coming days.”

Earlier today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had spoken with coalition whip Ofir Katz to ensure the law would pass.

The law empowers the communications minister to order “content providers” to cease broadcasting the channel in question; order the channel’s Israeli offices to be shuttered; order the channel’s equipment be confiscated; and order the channel’s website to be taken offline, if the server is physically located in Israel, or otherwise block access to the website.

Such orders will be valid for 45 days but can be renewed for further 45-day periods.

Under the terms of the bill, any order to shut down a foreign news channel must be brought within 24 hours for judicial review by the president of a district court, who must then decide within three days if they wish to change or shorten the period of the order.

The legislation passed a first reading in the Knesset plenum in February and was approved for its second and third readings following an extended debate in the Knesset National Security Committee.

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