yair lapid 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Israel Press Council decided Thursday night not to institute into the
council’s ethical code a “cooling-off period” for journalists before they enter
politics, sending the so-called Yair Lapid Bill back to the Knesset.
decided it was unnecessary, because the code already includes a clause stating
that journalists should not put themselves into a position in which there would
be a conflict of interests between their obligations as journalists and any
The Knesset passed two bills in preliminary readings in
June 2010, that if enacted, would institute a cooling-off period for journalists
before they can get elected.
Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh’s bill calls for a
six-month cooling-off period, and Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen’s bill would
require a full year.
The bills were then sent to the Knesset Constitution
Law and Justice Committee, whose chairman, MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), is
a strong opponent of the bills. Rotem admitted that he sent them to the press
council in an effort to bury them.
The legislation was inspired by the
son of the late Shinui leader Yosef Lapid, Yair Lapid, who anchors Channel 2’s
toprated Friday night news program Ulpan Shishi, and writes a featured column in
the weekend editions of the nation’s most read newspaper, Yediot
Lapid hinted at a speech in Herzliya last summer that he was en
route to politics. After a public outcry, he told his superiors that he
currently did not intend to enter politics – but if he changed his mind, he
would voluntarily institute a six-month cooling- off period.
Press Council invited Rotem, Tirosh and Shama- Hacohen to the meeting. In
addition, MKs who used to work as journalists, including Shelli Yacimovich and
Daniel Ben-Simon of Labor, Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), Uri Orbach (Habayit
Hayehudi), Anastasia Michaeli (Israel Beiteinu) and Nino Abesadze (Kadima), were
invited, but Tirosh was the only MK who came.
Tirosh said addressing the
journalists was like going into “a lion’s den.” She added that she was asked
cynical questions from journalists from Ha’aretz
about why she would limit the
media from entering politics, and not soccer players.
“It’s not easy to
get people to set limits on themselves,” Tirosh said. “I told them that if they
care about keeping journalism objective, they should support the bill, or decide
to instead set a cooling-off period via the council’s bylaws.”
spokesman expressed confidence that she would be able to pass her bill in the
Knesset in its final readings.
“If the council would have ruled to set a
cooling-off period, we wouldn’t need legislation – but since it didn’t, we will
have to do it in the Knesset. It’s already passed the ministerial committee on
legislation and the first reading. Passing it into law is a foregone