New threat to Al Jazeera as it is banned in Israel - broadcaster finds the decision 'odd and biased'

Israel has followed Saudia Arabia by seeking to ban Qatar-based TV news channel Al Jazeera.

The country has accused the channel of supporting terrorism and both its English and Arabic versions are to be taken off air.

It follows similar bans on Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates who have made closing the station a condition of lifting a trade embargo against Qatar which began in June.

Israeli cable TV providers have agreed to take the network off air and legislation may now be passed to close the Jerusalem bureau.

Israel’s communications minister Ayoub Kara said: “Al Jazeera has become the main tool of Daesh, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.”

It was accused of inciting hatred with its reporting of its reporting of a crisis around access to the Temple Mount – a holy site in Israel which is sacred to Jews and Musilms.

In statement Al Jazeera said it “denounces this decision made by a state that claims to be ‘the only democratic state in the Middle East’.

“It also finds the justifications made by the minister of communications as odd and biased as they are in unison with the actions carried out by a number of Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and Jordan) that have closed the network’s bureaus, shut down its cable and satellite transmissions, and blocked its websites and applications.

“During the press conference, the minister could not substantiate his comments by referring to a single news bulletin or situation that proved Al Jazeera had not been professional nor objective during its coverage in Jerusalem.

“Al Jazeera stresses that it will watch closely the developments that may result from the Israeli decision, and will take the necessary legal measures towards it.

“The network also reiterates that it will continue covering news and events in the occupied Palestinian territories in a professional and objective manner in accordance with the common journalistic standards set by the relevant international organisations, such as the British Broadcasting Code of Ofcom.”

Al Jazeera English is broadcast in the UK and has around 80 staff based at its London bureau.

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