After two delays the Knesset on Tuesday night voted for the dismantling of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the establishment of an alternate three-channel entity in its place.
The vote was held only because of an agreement signed around noon on Tuesday between the Finance Ministry and the Histadrut labor federation.
Otherwise the vote would have been delayed indefinitely.
Forty-five MKs voted in favor, 11 opposed and one abstained.
The bill for the finale of the IBA and Educational Television was submitted by Communications Minister Gilad Erdan, who declared after the vote that it was a historic day for Israel.
If all goes according to Erdan’s plan, as soon as the legislation is published in the official Reshumot gazette, a liquidator will begin dismantling the IBA, but will not be allowed to dismiss anyone for cost efficiency reasons. The target date for the completion of the process is March 2015 with a possible extension of three months. The IBA will not actually close down until a new public broadcasting network is established, said Erdan.
Fears that the dismantling of a state-owned public institution was a precedent for what would set off a domino syndrome with regard to other public institutions and services were expressed by several members of Knesset from different parties during the discussion preceding the vote.
Another common complaint was that too much authority had been given to Finance Minister Yair Lapid, when one of the stated purposes of the law was to depoliticize public broadcasting.
Voices were also raised against the timing of the legislation, which was considered by several MKs to be inappropriate in view of the fact that IBA reporters were doing outstanding work during Operation Protective Edge, with some of them risking their lives to bring the public information from the battle front.