The UAE cleric also accused the late Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres, of controlling Al-Jazeera by working ‘hand in hand’ with the Qatar-based network.
Prominent United Arab Emirates cleric, Wassim Yousuf, slammed the Qatar-based news outlet Al-Jazeera in a TV interview last month, accusing it of being supported by Israel and a “weapon of the Jews.”
The statement comes amid a diplomatic crisis with Qatar and Arab Gulf states, who shut-down the network following a total blockade of the country for its alleged ties with extremists.
In the latest string of accusations against the news outlet, Yousuf claimed on Abu Dhabi TV that Al-Jazeera was being controlled by Israel, and more specifically worked “hand in hand” with Israel’s late president and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, reported the Times of Israel on Saturday.
“Control of the media is one of the weapons used for the destruction of the Islamic nation on the religious and national levels,” said Yousuf, according to the Times. “This is why Shimon Peres went hand in hand with the Al-Jazeera network.”
He did not specify how so.
“Media was the first weapon of the Jews in their efforts to make the Muslims doubt their faith,” he added.
However, the Qatari channel has been under attack on both sides, as Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused the network for being an “incitement machine,” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly considered closing down its Jerusalem bureau.
Lieberman’s remarks came during a Knesset meeting on Israel’s strategies towards the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which is heavily reliant on Qatari funding for support.
“Al-Jazeera is not media, it’s not journalism. It’s an incitement machine. It’s pure propaganda, of the worst variety, in the style of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia,” Lieberman said.
Al-Jazeera, one of the largest news organizations in the world, has long been a source of conflict between Qatar and its neighbors, who accuse the broadcaster of bias and fomenting trouble in the region.
Lieberman also accused the news service of supporting Iran, the arch-nemesis of Saudi Arabia.
“I’ve been tracking Al-Jazeera for many years,” Lieberman said. “You’ll never see a single article against Iran.”
Saudi Arabia last week led an initiative to isolate the emirate over its alleged support for terrorism. The Saudis, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, the Maldives and Yemen have all severed diplomatic ties with the Qatar, while Jordan downgraded its diplomatic cooperation with the country.
While Israeli officials have largely kept quiet on the Gulf spat, Lieberman noted that some Arab nations’ interests overlap with those of Israel, “including the issue with Al-Jazeera,” he said.
Netanyahu met with members of the Foreign Ministry, Shin Bet security service, Government Press Office and the Defense Ministry on Monday where they discussed preliminary steps for shutting the bureau down, Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth reported last month.
The broadcaster’s bureau chief in Jerusalem, Walid al-Omari fired back at the threat of closure in an interview with the Hebrew daily Maariv, saying: “If they try to discontinue our activity in Israel and close our office here, we will petition the High Court of Justice.”
“What’s wrong with Al-Jazeera?” asked al-Omari in the interview. “We are duly registered, law-abiding workers who pay taxes and behave according to journalistic ethics. From day one we have been registered. Everything is transparent, everything is coherent.”
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