The Israeli parliament has passed a law banning journalists working for the country's public broadcast authority from expressing their opinions on air.

The law, passed early Thursday in the middle of the night, drew criticism from journalists, who accused the government of trying to stifle dissent.

The law says broadcasts should "avoid one-sidedness, prejudice, expressing personal opinions, giving grades and affixing labels."

The Israel Press Council urged parliament to cancel the law, saying it violates free speech.

Cabinet Minister Ofir Akunis said the law only applies to newscasts. He told Channel 2 TV that some journalists critical of the government "aren't being professional and are doing it for political reasons."

It remains unclear how the law will be enforced.