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On November 16, 2023, Al Jazeera interviewed a hostage’s mother, Merav Leshem Gonen, and ambushed her with a Hamas official. It may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday asked coalition chairman MK Ofir Katz (Likud) to make sure that the Al-Jazeera law is approved by the Knesset on Monday evening in second and third readings, the Likud Party announced Monday morning.

The law that Netanyahu is pushing gives the prime minister the authority to shut down Al Jzeera’s broadcasts in Israel. The Likud announcement states that as soon as the bill is passed, “the Prime Minister will act immediately to shut down Al Jazeera in accordance with the procedure established by the new law.”


Although Netanyahu has been promising to shut down Al Jazeera since 2017, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the channel’s November 16, 2023 interview with Merav Leshem Gonen, the mother of Rumi Gonen who was kidnapped by Hamas. Leshem Gonen agreed to the interview because she wished to convey her message to the Arab world. The Al Jazeera journalist who interviewed her demanded that she show proof that any of the events of October 7 really happened, and then added to the broadcast a Hamas official, Zahar Jabarin, who is in charge of the terror group’s prisoners’ portfolio. It was a wake-up moment for the few Israelis, including some hostage families who still had delusions about Al Jazeera not being a propaganda arm of Hamas.

On December 5, 2023, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, chaired by MK Yuli Yoel Edelstein (Likud), debated a motion that was submitted by MKs Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu), Zeev Elkin (National Unity Party), Erez Malul (Shas) and Moshe Roth (United Torah Judaism), stating, “The Government’s duty to immediately shut down the Al Jazeera channel, which incites against the State of Israel and supports Hamas while it broadcasts from Israeli territory.”

The explanatory notes attached to the motion state: “Even though the Government has already passed regulations and approved a process that would enable the closure of the channel, the Prime Minister has not brought the matter up for a debate and vote in the Ministerial Committee on National Security, and has not advanced the channel’s immediate closure. In the meantime, the channel, which serves as the Hamas movement’s mouthpiece, is broadcasting from within Israeli territory while transferring information to our enemies, inciting against the State of Israel and expressing support for Hamas.

“Every minute that the channel continues to broadcast from the State of Israel harms state security, jeopardizes the safety of our citizens and soldiers, and even constitutes a show of weakness and flaccidity in the face of the terror, which has supporters within the Al Jazeera channel.”

According to Israeli media, Netanyahu was unlikely to shut down Al Jazeera, which is sponsored by the pro-Iran and pro-Hamas State of Qatar, as long as there was hope that Qatar would be able to maneuver Hamas in Gaza into a deal to release the Israeli hostages. Monday’s decision to shut down the channel in Israel suggests that the PM has abandoned hope for such a gesture on Qatar’s behalf.

During last December’s committee meeting, MK Forer said “Qatar has funded and armed Hamas for years, with the backing of the Government of Israel. Qatar is not a partner, but rather a country that continually funds terror, beyond Hamas. As long as we allow Qatar to have it both ways, we are reducing the chances of bringing the hostages back.”

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi (Likud) said in response, “Immediately following the outbreak of the war, I drafted directives that would allow the state to take immediate measures against broadcasters that jeopardize the country’s security. On October 20, the Government approved emergency regulations that are a bit more restrained and make it a little more difficult, but they were approved, and we moved forward on the Al Jazeera issue. I have requested the authorization of the defense minister and the cabinet. All of the directives are ready to go.”

The motion was approved last week by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and is expected to be approved by all the Jewish parties in the Knesset. The Arabs will vote against it. However, the bill was criticized by several Jewish MKs who complained that Al Jazeera would still be available for watching on the cable providers Yes and Hot and its videos could be downloaded by smartphones. The bill only outlaws the Qatari channel’s operations in Israel and bans its correspondents.


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