GPO to sanction Al-Jazeera

GPO director: "I'm convinced Al-Jazeera is inciting against Israel and giving terrorists a platform."

The Government Press Office has decided to impose sanctions on Al-Jazeera after the station's Beirut office threw a party for released Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar. Daniel Seaman, director of GPO, announced the sanctions during a meeting with Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Israel, Walid al-Omari, who claimed that this was a "mishap" that is being checked by his station. Seaman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that this time he was serious about imposing sanctions on Al-Jazeera. He said the measures meant that government offices would not provide services to the station or any of its employees. He added that he was not satisfied with Omari's explanation and would recommend that the Foreign Ministry pursue the matter. Three weeks ago the Post was the first to report the GPO's intention to boycott Al-Jazeera in protest against the party held for Kuntar. Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Beirut, Ghassan bin Jeddo, has long been known for his close ties to Hizbullah. Kuntar, for his part, thanked Jeddo and Al-Jazeera for supporting him and the other prisoners in Israeli jails and for waging a campaign to bring about their release. "We will suspend all handling of Al-Jazeera requests," Seaman said. "We won't provide them with any of our services, which include issuing press credentials and assistance with bureaucracy and applications for visas." He added, "what they did was not professional. I'm convinced, more than ever, that Al-Jazeera is inciting against Israel and providing a platform for terrorists." Earlier this year, Israel decided to boycott Al-Jazeera after accusing the station of supporting Hamas. The boycott, initiated by the Foreign Ministry, included a ban on interviews with government officials and refusal to issue visas for the station's employees. The move had come after Al-Jazeera correspondents allegedly staged a candlelight protest following a government decision to reduce electricity and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip in response to continued rocket attacks on Israeli towns. The ban was lifted after Al-Jazeera editors in Doha agreed to discuss its coverage of the Israeli-Arab conflict with Israeli government officials.