Israel: new law granting closure of foreign media outlets threatens media freedom

  • 03 Apr 2024

The NUJ has warned against the closure of Al Jazeera and other international media outlets, following passage of a bill by the Israeli government banning broadcasting of foreign media over threats to national security.

On 1 April, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, stated on X “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 activity.” Both the NUJ and IFJ have condemned the statement and urged the Israeli government not to close the Jerusalem bureau of Al Jazeera.

New legislation allows government to issue orders valid for 45 days, temporarily preventing broadcasting and allowing for the confiscation of equipment of foreign media, if Israel’s security agencies provide an opinion proving there is a threat to national security. Orders can then be renewed for further 45 day periods, posing harm to press freedom. Last year, the Israeli government approved emergency regulation to shut down critical media, alleged to undermine national security, using the regulation to block access to Lebanese channel Al-Maydeen TV in November.

Antony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, said:

"The prime minister’s intention to ban Al Jazeera will be a serious blow to media pluralism and the public’s right to know. We urge the Israeli government not to close the Jerusalem bureau of Al Jazeera or any foreign media in Israel, and to stop using ‘national security’ as an excuse to censor critical media. The actions of the Israeli government are unfitting of a democracy."

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