JERUSALEM (JTA) – Al Jazeera threatened to take legal action to remain in its Jerusalem bureau following Israel’s decision to close it down.
The Qatar-based news network, which is based in the same building as Israel’s Government Press Office, criticized the shutdown as “undemocratic” in a statement Monday.
“Al Jazeera stresses that it will closely watch the developments that may result from the Israeli decision and will take the necessary legal measures towards it,” the statement said. ”Al Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by international agencies.”
Israel’s communications minister, Ayoub Kara, a Druze lawmaker for the ruling Likud Party, on Sunday announced plans to revoke the media credentials of Al Jazeera TV journalists, close the Jerusalem office, and remove the station’s broadcasts from local cable and satellite providers.
The actions would require legislation and legal action, according to reports.
The channel, which has about 30 employees in Israel in both its Arabic and English channels, according to Reuters, already is blocked in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain.
Israeli officials have accused Al Jazeera of bias against the Jewish state.
“We have identified media outlets that do not serve freedom of speech but endanger the security of Israel’s citizens, and the main instrument has been Al Jazeera,” Kara said Sunday. He also said the network “caused us to lose the lives of the best of our sons.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month accused Al Jazeera of inciting violence in Jerusalem, including over the Temple Mount.
Al Jazeera was the first Arab news outlet to interview Israeli military and government officials.