Lieberman: Israel Seeks to Ban Al Jazeera

News outlet is a 'branch of a terrorist organization,' foreign minister accuses, says cabinet reviewing Qatari TV channel's status.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Foreign Minister Lieberman at press conference in Knesset, March 25, 2014.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The government is seeking to bar Al Jazeera from broadcasting from Israel, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday.

At a meeting in Jerusalem with his counterpart from Rwanda, Lieberman said the government has already begun reviewing the Qatari television channel’s status with the goal of forbidding it to work in Israel henceforth. He also assailed Qatar, saying it has become a worldwide problem.

“Qatar constitutes the economic spine of the most radical terrorist groups, which are undermining the stability of the world in general and the Middle East in particular,” he said.

“Qatar is a key player in our current conflict with Hamas in Gaza, since among other things, it finances Hamas and gives asylum to Khaled Meshal,” Lieberman added, referring to the head of Hamas’ political wing.

Qatar also funds Al Jazeera, which Lieberman said had become a pillar of Hamas’ propaganda effort. “Al Jazeera has abandoned even the semblance of a credible media outlet, and it broadcasts – both within Gaza and outside it, to the world – anti-Semitic incitement, lies, provocation and encouragement to terrorists,” he said.

All the major global broadcasters have a presence in Israel, Lieberman noted, and many of them “don’t exactly broadcast Zionist propaganda – even the opposite. But as a democratic country, we’re obligated to allow this. In Al Jazeera’s case, however, this isn’t a media issue, but an issue relating to the operation of a branch of a terrorist organization that is currently fighting against the State of Israel. The U.S. wouldn’t let an Al-Qaida channel broadcast from New York.”