Israel plans to revoke the media credentials of Al Jazeera TV journalists, close its Jerusalem bureau and pull the Qatar-based station's broadcasts from local cable and satellite providers, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said on Sunday.
Kara announced his intentions to request that the Government Press Office revoke Al Jazeera reporters within Israel of their press passes and to contact the cable companies, who expressed willingness on their part towards blacking out the news agency's broadcasts. However, no timetable for the measures was given.
Al-Jazeera said it "deplores" Israel's decision to close the broadcaster's offices in the Jewish state and will pursue the matter through legal channels, an official at the Doha-based news channel said today.
Kara said it was "delusional" that other Arab states in the region had banned Al-Jazeera for these reasons, but Israel so far has not.
"Al-Jazeera deplores this action from a state that is called the only democratic state in the Middle East and considers what it has done is unsafe", said the official who declined to be named. Journalists and representatives from Al Jazeera were not permitted to attend.
"Al-Jazeera will follow the folder through legal procedures and appropriate legal", he said.
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"Freedom of expression is not freedom to incite", he said, according to a ministry statement.
Israel has long presented itself as a bastion of press freedom in a region where government restrictions on the media are commonplace, and has pointed to Al Jazeera's presence in Jerusalem as proof of the nation's liberal values.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to "expel Al Jazeera" for inciting violence through its coverage of two policemen killed at the Temple Mount and the Israeli government's additional security at the site.
"Al Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by global agencies, such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom)".
Israel has, however, frequently accused it of being biased in reporting the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Al Jazeera has met with accusations of anti-Israel bias and antisemitism for years.