(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and coalition chairman David Bitan on Tuesday denied reports that legislative and legal problems will prevent implementation of the public broadcasting deal Kahlon reached with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The deal calls for the current Israel Broadcasting Authority to run the news division of the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation. The agreement prevented early elections from taking place.
The anti-Netanyahu business daily Calcalist, which is owned by the prime minister’s nemesis Arnon Mozes, reported that professional teams preparing legislation required to implement the deal were not succeeding.
The report said the upcoming deadline to pass the bills and Kahlon’s unwillingness to spend more money on public broadcasting make implementation almost impossible.
If the bill is not ready, the corporation will have to go on the air on April 30 with its own news division, as the law currently states, but Netanyahu has done everything possible to prevent.
“If Netanyahu wants to go to elections over a few weeks of broadcasts, the responsibility lies with him,” the report quoted senior Finance Ministry officials saying.
But Kahlon’s office said the report was incorrect and it could not have come from anyone official or involved in drafting the legislation.
A source close to Kahlon said the bill would be ready by Thursday’s deadline for submission ahead of voting at Sunday’s cabinet meeting and to pass in the Knesset in its first reading April 19 and final readings by May 7. If that happens, the corporation can go on the air by May 15, as the deal says.
Kahlon’s associates said they were also not concerned about challenges to the agreement in the High Court of Justice, because they only become relevant when the legislation becomes law.
“I am not worried, because we have overcome harder challenges before,” said Bitan (Likud), who is close to Netanyahu.
Earlier Tuesday, Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) said she was skeptical the corporation would be ready and would ever go on the air.
IBC workers protested at a meeting of the Labor faction in the Histadrut labor federation and disrupted speeches by Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Zionist Union Knesset faction head Merav Michaeli.
“What Netanyahu did to the workers is heartbreaking and angering,” Michaeli wrote on Twitter, posting a picture of the protest that interrupted her speech.
Channel 2 revealed tapes of IBC head Eldad Koblenz saying the deal was “not ethical and might not be legal.” Koblenz admitted mistakes in his handling of the situation.