The Knesset will vote Thursday on a bill to help Channel 10 continue
broadcasting past December 31.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu asked Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to call an emergency meeting,
despite previous declarations that no Knesset votes would be held until after
the January 22 election.
The legislation on Channel 10 will be based on
an agreement made between Prime Minister’s Office director-general Harel Locker
and the channel’s management more than two weeks ago.
According to the
proposal, the state would extend Channel 10’s license by two years and loan it
NIS 65 million, enabling the channel to repay its debts.
The network was
expected to close at the end of the year, leading to protests and angry
declarations from opposition parties, before Netanyahu decided to back the
The bill will be put through an expedited legislative process,
with all three votes in one day, and is likely to pass.
The Knesset will
also vote on continued funding over the next six months for local news services,
which faced closure for budgetary reasons.
On Wednesday, Labor Party
chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich called a press conference to condemn the “fatal
blow to democracy” following the delay in the Channel 10 deal and announcements
of major cuts to Channel 2 News.
“This is a disaster that the public and
the media cannot tolerate,” Yacimovich said. “An agreement could have been made
long ago. Locker reached deals with all of the ministries, but the prime
minister actively prevented it from being put into action.”
Yacimovich, the lesson learned is that Netanyahu wants to silence the media, and
torture it until it does not publish investigative reports.
“This is not
how a democracy is run,” she declared.
Yacimovich also praised the
Channel 10 workers’ union, led by economic reporter Matan Chodorov, saying that
it proves unions are not just against their workplace and know how to help and
The Labor leader presented a bill she plans to propose to help
newspapers survive. The legislation consists of several measures, including
lower National Insurance payments for journalists, lower VAT on printing
supplies, and a weekly “critical reading” class in elementary schools, in which
students will read newspapers.
In addition, the bill proposes that the
Defense Ministry commit to buying each soldier leaving IDF service a year’s
subscription to the newspaper of his or her choice. Similar legislation was
passed in France, for high school graduates.
Also on Thursday, the
Knesset will accept Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation from the
cabinet, as well as that of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, as required by
law. Immediately afterward, Netanyahu will be sworn in as foreign minister and
Ayalon will be declared his deputy.
In addition, former Labor MK Yoram
Marciano will be sworn back into the Knesset, following Amir Peretz’s
resignation from the legislature and move to The Tzipi Livni Party.
Shemer contributed to this report.