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Netanyahu’s government votes to close Al Jazeera offices in Israel: NPR

FILE – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 28, 2023.

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FILE – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 28, 2023.

Abir Sultan/AP

TEL AVIV, Israel – Israel’s cabinet has voted to close the Al Jazeera network’s offices in Israel, effective immediately.

Writing on X – formally known as Twitter – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government had “unanimously” decided to shut down Al Jazeera in Israel. He accused the Doha-headquartered network of being a “channel of incitement” against Israel.

Al Jazeera, which broadcasts in both English and Arabic, has previously strongly denied such accusations, saying the Israeli leader had made a “disgracefully false accusation”.

Despite operating on the ground in Gaza throughout the war, Al Jazeera has long had a difficult relationship with Israel. In April, the Israeli parliament passed a law that empowers the government to shut down foreign news networks deemed harmful to national security. Some lawmakers accuse Al Jazeera of being a “mouthpiece of Hamas.”

Israel’s decision on Sunday means Qatar is playing a key diplomatic role with Egypt in hostage negotiations between Hamas and Israel.

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karai immediately echoed Netanyahu’s announcement. Karai said in a statement that Al Jazeera would be shut down immediately and its equipment confiscated.

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