Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has barred an Al Jazeera journalist from a government seminar on press freedom, a month after he threatened to close down the Qatar-based news organisation.
Al Jazeera's Jerusalem bureau chief, Walid Omary, was blocked from attending an event on freedom of expression that used the pan-Arab broadcaster as a case study.
His exclusion from the seminar "Limits of free expression: the dilemma between national security and freedom of the press — Al Jazeera as a case study" comes a month after the Israeli government announced it would close the organisation's bureau in Jerusalem and revoke journalists' press credentials.
The announcement on 6 August followed Netanyahu's sharp rebuke of Al Jazeera, in which he accused the news broadcaster of incitement behind numerous terror attacks.
After tensions escalated between Jewish and Muslim worshippers following an attack at a Jerusalem holy site known as Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif, Netanyahu threatened to shut down Al Jazeera's office over its coverage of the incident.
"The Al Jazeera network continues to incite to violence over the Temple Mount. I've several times appealed to law enforcement agencies demanding to close Al-Jazeera's office in Jerusalem. If this does not happen due to legal interpretation, I will work to enact the required legislation to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel," he wrote in a post on social media.
Last month, he threatened to revoke the credentials of an Al Jazeera journalist after a 2016 interview surfaced in which he expressed support for Palestinian "resistance".
"Al Jazeera denounces this decision made by a state that claims to be 'the only democratic state in the Middle East'," the organisation said following Netanyahu's threats.
Israel's communications minister Ayoub Kara told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday (7 September) that he would close Al Jazeera "no matter what it costs me".
"If they want to open their mouths, they can do it at the dentist. They should stop taking advantage of freedom of expression in Israel," he said.
Rachael Jolley, editor of the Index on Censorship magazine, told IBTimes UK: "The Israeli government's attempts to stop the Al Jazeera bureau chief in Jerusalem attending a briefing on freedom of expression is a worrying attack on media freedom in a country that needs to do more to make sure the news is openly reported. It is ironic that the briefing was on freedom of expression, when clearly the Israeli government does not have an understanding that this includes a free press and the freedom to report.