Israel’s Netanyahu Threatens to Shut Al Jazeera Jerusalem Office

An employee walks inside an office of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network in Jerusalem June 13, 2017. Picture taken June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

JERUSALEM, July 27 (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he would work to close the Jerusalem offices of Qatar-based al-Jazeera, accusing the television news network of inciting recent violence in the city.

Jerusalem is experiencing one of its most tense periods in years as Palestinians protest heightened Israeli security measures near the Temple Mount-Noble Sanctuary compound, one of the city’s holiest sites, and the events have been widely reported, including by al-Jazeera.

“The al-Jazeera network continues to stir violence around the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page in Hebrew.

The Qatar-based network was not immediately available for comment.

The spike in tensions and the deaths of three Israelis and four Palestinians in violence on Friday and Saturday raised international alarm.

“I have spoken several times to law-enforcement authorities demanding to close al-Jazeera’s offices in Jerusalem. If this does not happen because of legal interpretation, I will work to enact the required legislation to expel al-Jazeera from Israel,” the Israeli leader added in his post.

Al-Jazeera has also faced government censure in neighbouring Egypt when in 2014, the Arab state jailed three al-Jazeera staffers for seven years and closed the network’s offices. Two staffers have been released but a third remains imprisoned.

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