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News Link • Israel

What is behind Israel's attempt to ban Al Jazeera?

• http://www.aljazeera.com, By Mark LeVine

The present attempt by the government of Israel to close down Al Jazeera's offices in Jerusalem reflects a potentially far-reaching shift in the perceived power and role of critical media, not just in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but across the Arab world and larger Middle East and North Africa.

The move is particularly odd since Al Jazeera and Israel have long had a symbiotic, if often adversarial, relationship. Despite long-standing and often harsh criticism of the Israeli occupation and its policies, Israel has afforded the channel relatively wide latitude in its coverage. There have been repeated grumblings over the years, and threats to close down its bureaus, but it hasn't prevented coverage and commentary by Al Jazeera's staff and contributing writers.

Al Jazeera's offices - like other media organisations - have been located for years in the same complex as the Government Press Office. Showing up for press credentials from the network has never caused any more trouble than I've experienced when I requested credentials for US news organisations, for example.

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