(JTA) – Israel’s Government Press Office said it will revoke the press card of a senior reporter for the Al Jazeera network based in Jerusalem.
The press office director, Nitzan Chen, wrote in a statement Wednesday that he had decided to void the certificate and privileges it affords Elias Karram pending a hearing, citing a May 2016 interview with the Turkey-based television network Dar al-Iman in which Karram reportedly referred to his “media work [as] an integral part of the resistance and its educational political activity.” The press office says the network is affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Palestinians often use the term resistance to describe a range of actions in opposition to Israel or its control of the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, including violent and nonviolent activities.
Karram, an Israeli citizen from Nazareth, has carried a GPO card on behalf of Al Jazeera since 2011.
The press office wrote that at the hearing, Karram “will be requested to explain whether or not he is part of the Palestinian people’s resistance to the ‘Zionist occupation,’ as he stated in the interview, and if so, how this affects his work as a journalist according to universal ethics.”
Karram reportedly added in the interview, which Chen said had been submitted to his office only recently, that he “fulfills his role in the opposition with the pen, voice or camera because he is part of this people and he carries out resistance in his unique way.”
Such remarks, Chen wrote, “call into question the ability of Karram, the representative of a foreign network, to cover – as a professional journalist – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which, according to his own words, he is taking an active part.”
The move against Karram follows a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month that he would close down the Jerusalem offices of the Qatar-based network, which he has accused of inciting violence in the city. Al Jazeera has rejected the allegations and accused Netanyahu of promoting state censorship of the free press.
Several professional associations of journalists, including the Danish Union of Journalists, have protested the plan to shut down Al Jazeera in Jerusalem.
Communications Minister Ayoub Kara recently contacted Chen and requested that the press cards of Al Jazeera personnel in Israel be revoked “on the grounds that the network was inciting and agitating to violence in a way that harmed the security of the state,” the statement read.
Whoever “takes an active part in a political struggle should do so in the framework of the law, but without press credentials from the State of Israel,” Chen added.