After weeks of a crisis looming over Israel’s government, an agreement was reached on Thursday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Moshe Kahlon, his finance minister.

Person voting
Kahlon leads the “Kulanu” (“everybody” in Hebrew) party, the largest member of the Netanyahu-led coalition.

The two disagreed on the fate of a new broadcasting body.

In 2014, a law was passed ordering the state-run Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to be closed and opening a new one named “Kan” (“here” in Hebrew), the new Israeli Broadcasting Corporation.

For years, the IBA was struggling to survive and attempted to reform, but failed. It was an inflated body with a large budget.

Israel’s right-wing members and supporters have often complained that the media in the country is traditionally associated with the left.

Those in favor of the new authority were after a broadcaster that will express less leftist opinions.

But the implementation of the law was also a struggle, as journalists needed to be fired from IBA, different journalists to be hired by Kan with many political obstacles on the way.

Some decisions had the strong whiff of politics, with criticism that Netanyahu wanted to ensure the new broadcasting authority would provide favorable coverage.

The Israeli Prime Minister has repeatedly said there is media biased against him.

The new broadcaster was to begin airing in the end of April. Netanyahu wanted a change course to try to avert the birth of the new authority.

According to media reports, he realized many of the employees in Kan were not going to supply the favorable coverage he sought out to get. On the record, the Israeli premier said there was no longer a reason to shutdown the IBA as it became an efficient body once hundreds of employees were let go.

The Kulanu party objected saying the law must be upheld.

Before departing for an official visit to China last week, Netanyahu told reporters he did not understand Kahlon’s resistance and that there is now no reason for a new authority to be created.

There was speculation in the Israeli media and amongst politicians that the crisis could lead to the toppling of the government. Both Kahlon and Netanyahu were quoted by associates saying they were willing to go to elections over the crisis.

Netanyahu is currently under several investigations. One of them is related to recorded deliberations he held with a publisher of a leading Israeli newspaper in which the Israeli PM asked for positive coverage in return for limiting the newspaper’s competition.

Two weeks of deliberations between the prime minister and Kahlon came to an end Wednesday.

The IBA will close, Kan will open but will not deal with news. A separate news corporation will be created. It will have a separate management, one that Netanyahu can easily swallow. The heads of Kan will not have any involvement in current events.

It is still unclear who will head the new news corporation and who will appoint it’s management and journalists.

The original law from 2014 has to be amended in the coming weeks.

The deal sparked criticism from Netanyahu’s opponents and from journalists who were hired to work in the new authority.

“There is no public broadcasting like this anywhere else in the world. There will be no authority, no corporation and no news. Everyone has lost, above all the Israeli public. They destroyed the IBA and built nothing in it’s place,” said Nachman Shai as quoted by the Israeli media.

Shai is a member of parliament, part of the opposition and a former chairman of the IBA.

But the head of the coalition, David Bitan praised the settlement.

“It is a plan that both sides can live with, it will avoid elections and ensure the continuation of a coalition that is good for Israel… good for all of us and good for the media,” he was quoted as saying.

The new set-up will likely be petitioned in court and may not pass the test.

For now, a coalition crisis has been averted and the current Israeli government remains seated with it’s future highly dependent on the outcome of the investigations against Netanyahu. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/