France's Eutelsat Agrees to Drop Hamas TV Broadcasts After Netanyahu's Call to Hollande

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Netanyahu and Hollande sitting during a press conference in Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, 2013.
Netanyahu and Hollande at a press conference during the French president's visit in Israel, 2013.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

The French satellite giant Eutelsat will cease airing broadcasts of the Hamas-affiliated "Al-Aqsa" television station following a phone conversation Friday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Francois Hollande, according to a senior Israeli source.

Israel approached Eutelsat sometime in the last few weeks, insisting that the broadcasts be halted on grounds that they include calls of incitement to violence against Israelis, said the source.

As part of a pressure campaign against the company, Netanyahu spoke with Hollande and requested that the president also act to shut down the broadcasts.

On Saturday, the Israeli source said that Israel's ambassador in Paris, Aliza Bin-Noun, had informed the prime minister's office of the company's agreement to end the "Al-Aqsa" broadcasts.

"The prime minister would like to thank the French president for his help in preventing incitement against Israelis and Jews," said the source.

Hamas is recognized in the European Union as a terrorist organization. European nations have agreed to boycott the group until it agrees to recognize the state of Israel, renounce terror and adopt all previous agreements signed between the PLO and Israel.

In June 2010, France's Higher Audiovisual Council (CSA), a governmental body responsible for regulations in the broadcasting industry, already ordered Eutelsat to cease the "Al-Aqsa" broadcasts. The order was given on the grounds that the station, which broadcasts in Gaza, breaks French laws regarding racism and incitement.

As a result, the Hamas-affiliated station was removed from the package of stations sent to the Middle East via Eutelsat, but "Al-Aqsa" recently found its way back into the package through another satellite provider that works in cooperation with Eutelsat.

However, despite Netanyahu's request and despite the fact that the French company stopped the broadcasts of Hamas' "Al-Aqsa," the station was already back on air Saturday, via a different satellite and a different frequency.

The station's website published an announcement Saturday claiming that the broadcasts had been moved to new frequencies via the Egyptian satellite company Nilesat and Arabsat, located in Saudi Arabia.

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