PM postpones coalition crisis decision

March 23, 2017 20:58

Netanyahu's long-awaited meeting with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on the fate of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation will have to wait for Sunday.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [File]. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Efforts to resolve a crisis in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition over public broadcasting were postponed on Thursday, because he was suffering from the flu.

Netanyahu’s long-awaited meeting with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on the fate of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation will have to wait until Sunday. Netanyahu wants to close the corporation before it goes on the air, which Kahlon said he would not permit.

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Shas leader and Interior Minister Arye Deri mocked the crisis on Thursday at a memorial ceremony for Ramat Hanegev Regional Council head Shmulik Rifman. Deri said that if Rifman were alive, he would be grabbing ministers and asking them why at a time of security tensions they were considering initiating an early election over public broadcasting.

“The heads of the parties in the coalition will meet with the prime minister soon and resolve the dispute,” Deri promised. “We will sit until white smoke comes out. It is important we continue dealing with important issues for the people of Israel.”

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) also expressed hope that the crisis would not lead to elections.

“I hope it will be resolved,” Steinitz said. “Simply speaking, it can be resolved. I think it’s better for Israel not to have early elections, time after time. Israel needs some kind of stability in governance. Therefore, I hope it will be resolved. I think that according to the coalition agreement, it’s very clear that it’s up to the prime minister to decide on such issues, and therefore, I hope it will be resolved as soon as possible.”

Netanyahu is also facing another potential coalition crisis, this time over settlements. Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel warned on Army Radio that if Israel decides to freeze construction anywhere in Judea and Samaria, Bayit Yehudi would exit the coalition, which would trigger an election.

Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.

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