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  • Arab Israelis take part in a rally organized by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, in protest against the demolition of homes in Arab communities, at Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, April 28, 2015.

    Arab Israelis take part in a rally organized by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, in protest against the demolition of homes in Arab communities, at Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, April 28, 2015. | Photo: AFP

Published 19 July 2015

Israel shut down a local Palestinian channel dedicated for its Arab citizens because according to authorities it was an anti-Israel “propaganda” tool.

Israel has closed Saturday a local TV station that was tailored for Arab-Palestinian citizens in the country, saying the move was made in order to protect Israel's “sovereignty.”.

On Thursday, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan signed the order for the closure of Palestine 48 TV channel for at least six months.

"I will not allow for Israel's sovereignty to be harmed or for the Palestinian Authority to gain a foothold in Israeli territory," Erdan said.

The channel is reportedly funded by the Palestinian government. It was launched on June 18, the first day of the Muslim's holy month of Ramadan.

Hours after its launch, the Israeli broadcast authority threatened to shut down the channel. Those behind the project were "wolves in sheep's clothing," said Communications Ministry spokesperson Yechiel Shavi at the time.

Echoing statements made by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March as part of his election campaign, Shavi added that Palestinians would never achieve statehood, but "can continue to dream forever.”

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However, Palestinian officials and Arab lawmakers in the Israeli Knesset argued that the move was illegal. Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation President Riad al-Hassan said the move against the channel, which is broadcast through the Palestinian company PalSat, was "illegal" and that it would be challenged in the supreme court.

The channel is dedicated to revive the history of the Palestinian community in Israel and move away from Arabic-language Israeli TV channels seen by Arab citizens of Israel as propaganda tools.

However, the channel comes at a time when Israel has one of the most conservative and right-wing governments in its history.

The name of the channel, Palestine 48, makes a reference to the 1948 Palestinian exodus and ethnic cleansing by the Israeli forces with the help of the mandate British government. Palestinians call the events are the ‘Nakba’, or disaster.

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More than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forcibly evicted from their homes and villages by Zionist militias.

Currently, Israel is home to more than 1.5 million Palestinians, most of whom speak Hebrew and have citizenship, but who also say they suffer from systemic racism and are treated as second-class citizens, lacking basic civil rights and access to education and healthcare, things that other citizens enjoy.

With a staff in their 20s and 30s, the channel aims at breaking through the culture taboos and initiating a national dialogue among the Palestinian youth, something the current Israeli government has long perceived as a threat.

Israel always maintained a patronizing policy towards Palestinians while also portraying them as the enemy, Dana Winkler, who wrote her PhD on Israel's failed Arabic-language television initiative, told Al-Jazeera.

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