Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Jewish Business News

Israeli Politics

The Knesset approves the Internet Shutdown Law in preliminary reading

The Internet Shutdown Law allows the blocking of Israeli media, after social media where Al Jazeera broadcasts, as in dictatorships.

Internet Shutdown Law
Internet Shutdown Law: Screenshot from a video published by the Minister of Communications Shlomo Karai in which he filmed himself signing the orders against the Al Jazeera channel, 5.5.2024

Israel’s Knesset took a significant step on Wednesday toward permanently restricting media outlets. Lawmakers voted 51-36 to advance a bill that would make the controversial “Al Jazeera Law” a permanent fixture in the country’s legal landscape.

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs backed a bill proposed by Ariel Kellner (Likud) people’s called “Internet Shutdown Law.” The bill seeks to amend the law for blocking broadcasts in Israel, granting the Minister of Communications the authority to block websites, including social networks and news platforms.

This decision goes against the stance of the Advisory and Legislation Division at the Ministry of Justice, which had prepared an opinion for extending the current law’s validity as a temporary measure. If MK Kellner’s bill is passed, it could undermine the state’s defense regarding the law’s constitutionality in the High Court.

Please help us out :
Will you offer us a hand? Every gift, regardless of size, fuels our future.
Your critical contribution enables us to maintain our independence from shareholders or wealthy owners, allowing us to keep up reporting without bias. It means we can continue to make Jewish Business News available to everyone.
You can support us for as little as $1 via PayPal at
Thank you.

The committee’s decision is contingent on the Ministry of Communications and Justice’s approval. It requires the bill to return to the Committee of Ministers before being presented to the Knesset for the first reading.

Background: The “Al-Jazeera Law”

In early April, the Knesset passed a law preventing foreign broadcasters from threatening state security, known as the “Al-Jazeera Law.” This law grants the Minister of Communications the power to limit broadcasts from any foreign channel, a measure uncommon in democratic countries. Even European countries, which have restricted Russian propaganda channels, have done so through international sanctions rather than special laws.

Potential for Abuse: Internet Shutdown Law

The law’s potential for undemocratic use is not just theoretical. Members of the Likud, Religious Zionism, and Otzma Yehudit coalition have indicated that this law is merely a stepping stone towards further legislation. MK Kellner’s proposal aims to expand the law, granting Ministers Shlomo Karai and Itamar Ben-Gvir extensive authority to shut down Israeli media outlets for reasons they determine.

The legislation originally targeted Al-Jazeera, claiming the channel’s broadcasts harmed security. However, during a High Court hearing, the state admitted that the law’s effectiveness in preventing security threats was limited. With approval from the Prime Minister and the Government or Cabinet, the current law allows the Minister of Communications to block access to threatening channels, remove them from cable and satellite broadcasts, confiscate their equipment, and close their offices in Israel.

Despite the Prime Minister’s initial reluctance, Communications Minister Shlomo Karai recently ordered restrictions on Al-Jazeera’s broadcasts. However, viewers can still access the channel via YouTube, social networks, or private satellite dishes, making the law’s impact minimal.

Legislative Intent and Future Implications

The law’s lack of effectiveness and the existence of other relevant laws highlight the legislators’ true intentions. During the National Security Committee discussions last March, MKs Kellner, Zvika Vogel (Otzma Yehudit), and Zvi Sukot (Religious Zionism) advocated for draconian legislation, giving ministers the power to shut down media outlets without security assessments or legal oversight.

Opposition from the legal counsel and approaching session deadlines forced a compromise on a more moderate law, enacted on April 1. However, coalition members assured that this was a temporary concession. Chairman MK Vogel described it as “putting our foot in the door,” with plans to introduce more radical bills later.

New Proposals and Potential Consequences

Recently, MK Zvi Sukkot proposed amendments to criminalize “broadcasting activity of a foreign channel” deemed harmful to state security, threatening six months’ imprisonment. MKs Kellner and Vogel also submitted proposals to radicalize the law, allowing the Minister of Communications to order government bodies to stop channel broadcasts.

Such measures could enable the interception of signals and blocking social network sites like YouTube or Facebook, mimicking practices in dictatorships. Kellner also suggested extending the law’s validity and instructions beyond their temporary status.

 Current Status and Ministry of Justice’s Stance

The Ministerial Committee’s decision to support Kellner’s proposal contradicts the Ministry of Justice’s Advisory and Legislation Division. The division, led by attorneys Adi Liberos and Aden Suissa, urged Justice Minister Yariv Levin not to promote the law, emphasizing the ongoing evaluation of extending and amending the existing law.

As the bill moves towards an early discussion in the Knesset, its potential impact on Israel’s media landscape and democratic values remains a subject of intense debate.



You May Also Like

World News

In the 15th Nov 2015 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:   ·         A new Israeli treatment brings hope to relapsed leukemia...


The Movie The Professional is what made Natalie Portman a Lolita.


After two decades without a rating system in Israel, at the end of 2012 an international tender for hotel rating was published.  Invited to place bids...

VC, Investments

You may not become a millionaire, but there is a lot to learn from George Soros.