Al Jazeera vows legal action over shutdown

Ori Lewis
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Israel plans to revoke the media credentials of Al Jazeera TV journalists working in the country.

Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera has vowed to take legal action against Israel after the Israeli government's decision to close the TV network's bureau in Jerusalem.

"Al Jazeera denounces this decision made by a state that claims to be 'the only democratic state in the Middle East'," the broadcaster said in a statement on Monday.

Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said on Sunday he has demanded the Government Press Office rescind the reporters' press cards from Al Jazeera's staff. He is working with cable and satellite providers to remove Al Jazeera's broadcasts in Israel.

Al Jazeera, which has been repeatedly accused of bias by the Israeli authorities, said the "Israeli minister could not substantiate his comments by referring to a single news bulletin or situation that proved Al Jazeera had not been professional nor objective during its coverage in Jerusalem."

The network said the decision comes in the context of a campaign initiated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accused Al Jazeera in a statement of inciting violence during its coverage of the al-Aqsa Mosque crisis.

Al Jazeera, a main conduit for news from Israel to the Arab and Muslim world, extensively covered tensions in Jerusalem over Israeli security measures at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The news network has been banned in several countries - including Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Syria - and has been accused of being a mouthpiece for Islamist groups, a charge Al Jazeera has denied.