'Lapid' bills pass in preliminary reading

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 24, 2010 01:30

Legislation would institute cooling-off period for journalists

2 minute read.



Yair Lapid

yair lapid 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Knesset passed two bills in preliminary readings on Wednesday that, if enacted, would institute a cooling-off period for journalists before they can get elected.

The bills were inspired by son of the late Shinui leader Yosef (Tommy) 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 highest circulation newspaper, Yediot Aharonot.

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Lapid hinted that he was en route to politics three weeks ago when he appeared to outline his platform in a lecture in Herzliya. 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.

Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh’s bill that would institute a six-month cooling-off period passed by a vote of 33 to 11. Likud MK Carmel Shama’s bill, in which the cooling-off period is a year, passed 31-12.

The bills will now go to the Knesset Law Committee to be prepared for final readings.

One change that is expected to be made is for the cooling-off period to begin immediately when an early election is called for less than six months away.

Support and opposition for the bills crossed all political lines. The bills received support from MKs in Likud, Kadima, Israel Beiteinu, Labor, Shas and Arab parties.

MKs who voted against included Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Likud ministers Michael Eitan, Dan Meridor and Bennie Begin as well as Eitan Cabel (Labor), Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi), Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al), Dov Khenin (Hadash), and the three Meretz MKs.

Tirosh said following her bill’s passage that from now on, “anyone who intended to run a political campaign from his anchorman’s chair will now have to change his plans.”

During the debate ahead of the vote in the Knesset plenum, Orbach, who is a former journalist, complained that the media were being unfairly singled out for a cooling-off period.

“If more reporters don’t come here, we will be stuck with MKs like you,” he told his Knesset colleagues from the rostrum.

“Now they want to sift out reporters, next they will want to sift out Norwegians, and who knows who will come next?”


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