Israeli parliament passes law that could stop Al Jazeera broadcasting

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Monday (Apr 1) to enact a ban on broadcasts in Israel from news channel Al Jazeera using authority newly elected lawmakers voted to grant him.

The potential ban is a fresh escalation in the running conflict between Israel’s government and the Qatar-based channel that has intensified during Israel’s war with Hamas militants in Gaza.

“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 activities,” Netanyahu said on X, formerly Twitter.

Within hours of the step toward a broadcast ban, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said “if it is true, a move like this is concerning.”

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the law underpinning Netanyahu’s pledge grants Israel the power to close any foreign outlets operating within its borders.

“This contributes to a climate of self-censorship and hostility toward the press, a trend that has escalated since the Israel-Gaza war began,” a statement from the group added.

Israel claimed in January that an Al Jazeera staff journalist and a freelancer killed in an air strike in Gaza were “terror operatives”.

The following month it said another journalist for the channel, wounded in a separate strike, was a “deputy company commander” with Hamas.

Al Jazeera has fiercely denied Israel’s accusations and accused Israel of systematically targeting Al Jazeera employees in the Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in the Palestinian territory, Wael al-Dahdouh, was also wounded, in an Israeli strike in December that killed the network’s cameraman.

His wife, two of their children and a grandson were killed in the October bombardment of central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp, while his eldest son was the Al Jazeera staff journalist killed in January when a strike targeted a car in Rafah.