Just as Britain would not have let Der Stürmer be printed in Britain during World War II, and the US would not allow al-Qaida to broadcast from America, Israel will work to close down al-Jazeera in Israel, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday.
Liberman, speaking at the start of a meeting in Jerusalem with Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, said that Hamas – which he pointed out is funded by Qatar – is a central element in al-Jazeera’s propaganda efforts.
According to Channel 2, Liberman has also recently been calling in private meetings for Israel to assassinate Hamas head Khaled Mashaal, saying that Qatar can no longer be a safe refuge for him.
In these discussions, he reportedly pointed out that the US assassinated Osama Bin Laden in a third country: Pakistan.
Israel tried once before to assassinate Mashaal abroad – in a botched attempt ordered by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his first term in 1997.
Regarding Al-Jazeera, Liberman said it “has abandoned even the perception of being a reliable news organization and broadcasts from Gaza and to the world anti-Israel incitement, lies, and encouragement to the terrorists.”
Liberman said the Foreign Ministry has begun examining the news organization’s activities and its status with “the intent of not allowing it to broadcast anymore from Israel.”
Liberman noted that the the largest networks broadcast from Israel, and “a not insubstantial number of them do not exactly broadcast Zionist propaganda.” Nevertheless, he said, Israel is a democratic state where this is possible and permitted.
However, in the case of of al-Jazeera, he said, this is not a matter of journalism but rather “a matter of the activity of an arm of a terrorist organization that is fighting this minute against Israel.”
One senior government official said he is not aware of any serious discussion to close al-Jazeera.
Another official said that closing al-Jazeera would necessitate a court case in which it would be necessary to persuade the court that the network is endangering national security.
“Saying they lie or are impartial will not be enough,” the official said.
The official said Liberman’s comments about al-Jazeera were reminiscent of his calls last month for a Foreign Ministry meeting to discuss expelling the UN’s Middle East envoy, Robert Serry. The meeting itself grabbed headlines, but nothing substantial followed.
Liberman also said that al-Jazeera’s sponsor, Qatar, has “turned into a world problem.”
The foreign minister said Qatar is the “economic backbone” of the most extreme terrorist organizations destabilizing the world and the Middle East.
“Qatar is also a central actor in the confrontation we are now conducting with Hamas in Gaza,” he said, “since it funds Hamas and gives refuge to Mashaal.”