Netanyahu vows to expel Al Jazeera over al-Aqsa coverage

Israel’s prime minister has vowed to expel Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, claiming the network is “inciting” violence as tensions have flared at the al-Aqsa mosque.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to expel Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, claiming the network is “inciting” violence as tensions have flared at sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

Benjamin Netanyahu said late on Wednesday that he would push through laws to close the channel’s offices in Israel.

“The Al Jazeera network continues to incite violence around the Temple Mount,” he wrote in a Facebook post using the Jewish term for the Haram al-Sharif compound, which includes the revered al-Aqsa mosque.

“I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem. If this does not happen because of legal reasons, I will work to legislate the laws required to remove Al Jazeera from Israel,” Netanyahu added.

The comments come nearly two weeks into a standoff over Israeli security measures at the Haram al-Sharif compound after Israel installed new security measures following an attack that killed two policemen.

Closing Al Jazeera is one of 13 wide-ranging demands by a Saudi-led bloc of Arab countries before an ongoing boycott of Qatar and a blockade on the energy-rich Gulf emirate can end.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain led a string of countries that cut ties with Qatar on 5 June over what they claim is the emirate’s financing of extremist groups and its ties to Iran, Riyadh’s regional arch-rival.

Qatar has categorically and repeatedly denied the claims.

Last month, the Israeli prime minister reportedly held initial discussions on closing down the Israeli offices of the Qatari broadcaster.

Al Jazeera has long been a source of conflict between Qatar and its neighbours, who accuse the broadcaster of bias and fomenting trouble in the region.

Israel has also long been frustrated by Al Jazeera’s coverage of the occupation of the Palestinian territories, accusing it of supporting Hamas.

Although not part of the Saudi-led rift with Qatar, in recent years Israel has emerged as an ally in a regional anti-Iran bloc.

“Al Jazeera is not media, it’s not journalism. It’s an incitement machine,” Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said last month.

“It’s pure propaganda, of the worst variety, in the style of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia,” Lieberman added.

The Qatari TV station employs around 34 people in the country, mostly Palestinians, and has offices in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza.

Jerusalem Bureau Chief Walid al-Omari has denied allegation the network has incited against Israel and described calls to close the network “unacceptable”.