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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Al Jazeera denounces Israel's decision to close its bureau

Al Jazeera on Monday denounced Israel's decision to close the network's Jerusalem bureau, saying the measure was "undemocratic" and that it will take legal action.

Israel's move follows in the footsteps of four Arab countries, including the UAE, that are boycotting Qatar over its support of extremist groups.

The channel and its affiliate sites have also been blocked in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain, who accuse the network of providing a platform for extremist voices. Israel has long accused the network of bias against it and incitement to violence.

On Sunday, Israeli communications minister Ayoob Kara announced he would revoke the press credentials of Al Jazeera journalists, effectively preventing them from working in Israel, and would move to block its transmission from the country.

"Al Jazeera denounces this decision made by a state that claims to be 'the only democratic state in the Middle East,'" the network said. "Al Jazeera stresses that it will watch closely the developments that may result from the Israeli decision, and will take the necessary legal measures."

Read more: YouTube removes video highlighting Al Jazeera extremist coverage - then reinstates it

Mr Kara, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud Party, said he has asked cable and satellite networks to block Al Jazeera transmissions and is seeking legislation to ban them altogether.

The Government Press Office, which issues press credentials in Israel, said it has asked security officials for guidance on Mr Kara's request.

Al Jazeera, which rose to prominence by airing messages of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the attacks of September 11, 2001, was the first Arab satellite news channel to offer a range of views outside of the heavily censored state media across the region and extensively covered the 2011 Arab Spring.

It also was the first Arab-owned news outlet to host Israeli officials and commentators.

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