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Israel moves to revoke Jazeera journalist's credentials

© 2017 AFP

16 August 2017

Israeli authorities said Wednesday they were moving to revoke the press credentials of a journalist for Al-Jazeera, after having announced plans to close the news network's offices in the country.

The government press office distributed video of an interview last year in which the journalist, Elias Karram, called his work an "integral part" of Palestinian resistance to Israel's occupation.

A hearing would be held in which Karram would be asked to explain his comments, the press office said, adding it had "decided to revoke" his credentials pending the hearing.

"These remarks 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," it said in a statement.

Al-Jazeera declined to immediately comment on the move.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that he wants to expel the Qatari broadcaster from the country, accusing it of inciting violence.

Netanyahu made the comments as tensions soared over Jerusalem's Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

At the time, Al-Jazeera condemned what it called "arbitrary accusations and hostile statements".

It added the network would "take all necessary legal measures in case they act on their threat," saying its coverage was professional and objective.

On August 6, Communications Minister Ayoob Kara followed up on Netanyahu's comments by saying he would take steps to close Al-Jazeera's offices in Israel.

He accused the broadcaster of "inciting violence which has provoked losses among the best of our sons".

Kara was referring to two policemen who were killed in a July 14 attack near the Haram al-Sharif compound in east Jerusalem.

The press office's move to revoke the press card for Karram, a 40-year-old Arab Israeli, marks the first concrete actions against the broadcaster since Netanyahu's remarks.

The press office statement on Wednesday said Kara recently 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."

Amnesty International has said Israel's move against the broadcaster is a "brazen attack on media freedom".