Israel Passes “Al Jazeera Law” Amid Protests and International Concern

The Israeli Knesset has enacted a law facilitating the temporary closure of foreign news networks perceived as security threats, passing with a 71 to 10 vote.

This legislation, nicknamed “Al Jazeera law” and specifically impacting the eponymous media, grants the Prime Minister and the Communications Minister authority to shut down outlets deemed detrimental to national security. It includes equipment confiscation, for 45-day intervals, subject to renewal. This law, temporary until July 31 or an earlier lift of the emergency situation declaration, mandates judicial review of any closure order by the district court president within 24 hours.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi labeled Al Jazeera a “Hamas mouthpiece,” announcing its imminent closure actions. This move has sparked significant concern from both the White House and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), citing potential risks to press freedom and fostering a climate of self-censorship.

The Knesset voted amid rising dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the security situation following October 7 Hamas’s attack. Yesterday, Sunday 31, marked the second consecutive day of protest in Israel, with thousand of demonstrators, including families of hostages held by Hamas, rallying outside the Knesset, demanding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation and early elections. Clashes with police were reported.