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Israeli ministers to propose ban against advancing 'terror' on Facebook

Legislation pushed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who herself has come under fire for posting inflammatory remarks on Facebook
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks during ceremony welcoming her at Justice Ministry on 17 May, 2015 (AFP)

Israel's justice and internal security ministers on Wednesday announced plans for legislation banning the use of Facebook to advance "terror" and outlawing incitement from the internet.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a joint statement that they met senior Facebook executives earlier on Wednesday, who were informed of their intention.

Shaked and Erdan said the legislation would aim to make it illegal to publish "offensive content" such as "encouraging terror attacks, shaming, insulting public officials and slandering".

Internet giants including Facebook and Google could be held accountable, they said.

In their meeting with the executives, they sought to ensure the removal of such content within 24 hours, as Facebook does in the EU, the statement said.

This would be backed by a law that blocks content inciting "terror" and ensures its "complete removal, similar to laws in Australia and France".

"We are working on draft legislation, similar to what is being done in other countries; one law that would allow for a judicial injunction to order the removal of certain content, such as websites that incite to terrorism," Shaked told a cyber security conference in Tel Aviv earlier this week.

"There should be some measure of accountability for internet companies regarding the illegal activities and content that is published through their services," Reuters quoted Shaked as saying.

Shaked, a member of the far-right Jewish Home party, is herself a computer engineer who began her career in the tech industry in Tel Aviv.

She came under heavy criticism in 2014 for posting the text of an article on Facebook that referred to Palestinian children as "little snakes" and justified Israeli military killings of civilians in that summer's Gaza war.

Israel maintains that online content has played a significant role in fuelling a wave of Palestinian attacks that broke out in October 2015.

The violence has killed at least 209 Palestinians, 32 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese.

Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians were killed as they carried out or attempted to carry out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

Others were killed in clashes with security forces or by Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip.

According to Wednesday's statement, the ministers said that "in the latest wave of terror there has been a direct link between online incitement and the so-called 'lone wolf' terror attacks".